Vietnam says tropical storm weakening, but risk of heavy rain

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HANOI — Vietnam’s weather agency said on Friday tropical storm Noul was weakening as it approached land, though authorities warned the storm could still dump heavy rains triggering floods and landslides in central areas of the country.

The government said on Wednesday it was readying plans to evacuate up to half a million people from central coastal areas as the storm was forecast to make landfall with wind speeds of up to 135 km (84 miles) an hour.

On Friday, Vietnam’s weather agency said the storm would make landfall in a coastal area between Quang Binh and Thua Thien Hue province in the afternoon with wind speeds of 90 km per hour and should weaken to a tropical low within hours.

Noul is forecast to dump up to 250 mm (9...

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Valdez stifles Rangers as Astros reach .500

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Framber Valdez matched his career high for strikeouts, Kyle Tucker slugged a two-run home run and the Houston Astros claimed the rubber match of their three-game series with the Texas Rangers with a 2-1 victory on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros (25-25) picked up a game on the Seattle Mariners in the race for second place in the American League West and an automatic postseason berth. Seattle lost to the San Francisco Giants 6-4 earlier Thursday and fell three games behind the Astros.

Valdez (4-3) recorded 11 strikeouts, matching his total from an 11-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park on Aug. 24. While half of his 100 pitches were sinkers, Valdez earned 12 swinging strikes on 41 curveballs. Thirteen of his 21 called strikes were on the sinker.


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Trump plans panel to promote ‘patriotic education’ in appeal to conservative base

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said on Thursday he planned to establish a commission to promote “patriotic education” in the United States, taking issue with efforts to highlight the United States’ history of slavery and racism.

In remarks delivered at the National Archives, which houses the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence, Trump railed against people who have taken to the streets around the country this year to protest racial injustice.

Republican Trump has sought to portray himself as a “law and order” candidate in the Nov. 3 election against Democratic rival Joe Biden and his announcement on Thursday to use an executive order to establish the commission could also be a move to appeal to his base.

Trump said “left-wing ...

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After the floods, assessing Hurricane Sally’s damage

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Sally’s immediate impact likely caused around $5 billion in damage and cleanup costs, Watson said. The storm has moved away from the coast but will bring several more inches of rain to the U.S. Southeast before dissipating.

“If you’re sitting on a river 5 miles (8 km) inland, you’ve got the wind and 2 feet (0.61 m) of rain dumped on you, then four to six days later a few feet of water comes down the river,” Watson said. Inland rains also could affect cotton and peanut harvesting, as five counties in central Georgia got more than 10 inches (25 cm) in 12 hours, Watson said.

Several rivers in Alabama and Florida have not yet crested and are not expected to reach “major flood” stages until Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.


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Mexican president says offer on table for predecessor’s luxury jet

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MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he has received an offer for his predecessor’s luxury jet, which officials have struggled to sell for nearly two years.

The leftist president put the Boeing 787 Dreamliner up for sale shortly after taking office in December 2018, condemning the customized aircraft as an out-of-touch symbol of excess, yet bids failed to meet the $130 million valuation.

Lopez Obrador did not provide details of the offer, but said the government expected to receive 2 million pesos ($95.46 million) “once the plane is sold.”

“Fortunately, there is an acquisition proposal. We’re waiting on a new appraisal, and it’s very likely that the plane gets sold,” Lopez Obrador told his daily news conference.

Last ...

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Sounders re-sign D Smith

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The Seattle Sounders signed defender Brad Smith to a contract, the team announced Thursday.

Smith played two seasons with the Sounders, including last year on the MLS Cup championship team. He was a free agent after his contract expired with Bournemouth following the English club’s relegation from the Premier League.

The 26-year-old Australian will be available for training and competition upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and completion of any mandatory quarantine period under local government and MLS health and safety protocol.

“We are very excited to bring in Brad, a proven winner who adds even more speed and athleticism to our squad,” said Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders general manager and president of soccer.

“With Brad being out of cont...

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Soccer-FIFA confirms new international dates as fixtures pile up

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ZURICH — FIFA has confirmed a new window for international matches in January 2022 as World Cup qualifying fixtures continue to pile up because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

World soccer’s ruling body said in a statement that the window was ratified by the decision-making FIFA Council on Thursday.

It applies to all continents apart from Europe, will last from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 2022, and means European clubs will be obliged to release their players during that period.

FIFA has also agreed that the CONCACAF Gold Cup will take place from July 10 to Aug. 1 next year and that the Africa Cup of Nations — postponed from 2021 — will be played in January 2022.

Apart from this month’s UEFA Nations League matches, international football has been on hold since March because of the...

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Canada’s Ontario planning new social gathering limits as COVID-19 cases rise-source

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TORONTO — The Canadian province of Ontario is considering introducing some strict new limits on social gatherings in three hot spots in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases, a government source told Reuters on Thursday.

A draft plan would reduce the size of indoor gatherings to 10, down from 50, and outdoor gatherings to 25, down from 100, the source said, adding that limits would apply in Toronto, nearby Peel region, and Ottawa. The plan does not yet have final approval.

New cases of COVID-19 have risen sharply over the last week in Ontario, breaking through the 300 mark on Monday. The province reported 293 new cases on Thursday.

The surge in cases, combined with school rules that require tests for most children or parents with mild symptoms, have driven tens of thous...

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Israel closes schools again as COVID-19 cases surge

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JERUSALEM — Israel closed its schools on Thursday, a day before entering a second national coronavirus lockdown, as daily infections topped 4,500.

The initial lockdown was imposed in late March and eased in May, when the number of new cases dropped to about 20 a day. Israeli leaders have acknowledged they lifted restrictions too soon, hoping to avoid further economic damage.

The new lockdown, due to last three weeks, coincides with the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, traditionally a time for large family gatherings.

Catching parents off-guard and trying to prevent further infections in schools, Israeli authorities decided late on Wednesday to close classrooms on Thursday, a day earlier than planned.

Teachers shifted to online lessons while children lamented n...

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Desperate migrants jump overboard from charity boat off Italy

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ROME — Some 70 migrants jumped overboard from the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms on Thursday, in an attempt to swim to the nearby southern Italian city of Palermo.

Those who jumped into the sea, part of a group of more than 270 people, were picked up by Italian coastguard and police ships.

The charity vessel carried out three separate rescue operations in the central Mediterranean between Sept. 8 and 10. The crew are still waiting for instructions on where the migrants will be allowed to disembark.

The Italian coastguard have transferred two pregnant women and one of their husbands onto land for medical assistance in recent days.

After being for years the primary route into Europe for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and other migrants, Italy has seen a drop in arr...

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