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Massachusetts reports 1,999 new coronavirus cases, decline in hospitalizations

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Massachusetts reports 1,999 new coronavirus cases, decline in hospitalizations

Massachusetts health officials on Thursday reported 1,999 new coronavirus cases, as both the positive test rate and COVID hospitalizations ticked down.

Infections have been higher amid the more highly contagious delta variant. The nearly 2,000 new virus cases now bring the daily average of infections to 1,333. The daily average was 223 two months ago.

The daily average percent positivity has been ticking down in recent weeks. The percent positivity is now 2.30%, compared to 2.98% a few weeks ago.

The positive test average was 1.61% for Thursday’s report.

State health officials also reported 16 new COVID deaths, bringing the state’s total recorded death toll to 18,424.

The daily average of deaths is now 9.9, up from the record-low death count of 1.3 in mid-July.

COVID hospitalizations went down by 31 patients, bringing the total to 675 patients.

There are now 173 patients in intensive care units, and 97 patients are currently intubated.

Of the 675 total patients, 213 patients are fully vaccinated — or about 32%. Those who are unvaccinated are at a much higher risk for a severe case.

Wednesday’s count of 2,716 new virus cases was the highest single-day tally since February. However, the state Department of Public Health later clarified the higher total, saying the numbers “include a backlog of testing results from September 10-September 13 not previously reported to DPH.”

“This resulted in an increase to today’s reported case counts,” DPH said in a statement.

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Colin Powell, exemplary general stained by Iraq claims, dies

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Colin Powell, exemplary general stained by Iraq claims, dies

By ROBERT BURNS

WASHIINGTON (AP) — Colin Powell, who served Democratic and Republican presidents in war and peace but whose sterling reputation was forever stained when he went before the U.N. and made faulty claims to justify the U.S. war in Iraq, has died of COVID-19 complications. He was 84.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Powell rose to the rank of four-star general and in 1989 became the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that role he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.

But his legacy was marred when, in 2003, he went before the U.N. Security Council as secretary of state and made the case for U.S. war against Iraq at a moment of great international skepticism. He cited faulty information claiming Saddam Hussein had secretly stashed away weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s claims that it had no such weapons represented “a web of lies,” he told the world body.

In announcing his death on social media, Powell’s family said he had been fully vaccinated.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American,” the family said. Powell had been treated at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Powell was the first American official to publicly lay the blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and made a lightning trip to Pakistan in October, 2001 to demand that then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf cooperate with the United States in going after the Afghanistan-based group, which also had a presence in Pakistan, where bin Laden was later killed.

As President George W. Bush’s first secretary of state, Powell led a State Department that was dubious of the military and intelligence communities’ conviction that Saddam Hussein possessed or was developing weapons of mass destruction. And yet, despite his reservations, he presented the administration’s case that Saddam indeed posed a major regional and global threat in a speech to the UN Security Council in the run-up to the war.

That speech, replete with his display of a vial of what he said could have been a biological weapon, was later derided as a low-point in Powell’s career, although he had removed some elements that he deemed to have been based on poor intelligence assessments.

Bush said Monday that he and former first lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death.

“He was a great public servant” and “widely respected at home and abroad,” Bush said. “And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”

Powell rose to national prominence under Republican presidents and considered a presidential bid of his own, but ultimately moved away from the party. He endorsed Democrats in the last four presidential elections, starting with former President Barack Obama. He emerged as a vocal Donald Trump critic in recent years, describing Trump as “a national disgrace” who should have been removed from office through impeachment. Following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, Powell said he no longer considers himself a Republican.

Powell rose from a childhood in a fraying New York neighborhood to become the nation’s chief diplomat. “Mine is the story of a black kid of no early promise from an immigrant family of limited means who was raised in the South Bronx,” he wrote in his 1995 autobiography “My American Journey.”

At City College, Powell discovered the ROTC. When he put on his first uniform, “I liked what I saw,” he wrote.

He joined the Army and in 1962 he was one of more than 16,000 military advisers sent to South Vietnam by President John F. Kennedy. A series of promotions led to the Pentagon and assignment as a military assistant to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who became his unofficial sponsor. He later became commander of the Army’s 5th Corps in Germany and later was national security assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

During his term as Joint Chiefs chairman, his approach to war became known as the Powell Doctrine, which held that the United States should only commit forces in a conflict if it has clear and achievable objectives with public support, sufficient firepower and a strategy for ending the war.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a retired Army general, said the news of Powell’s death left “a hole in my heart.”

“The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed,” Austin said while traveling in Europe. “Alma lost a great husband and the family lost a tremendous father and I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. He has been my mentor for a number of years. He always made time for me and I can always go to him with tough issues, he always had great counsel.”

Powell’s appearances at the United Nations as secretary of state, including his Iraq speech, were often accompanied by fond reminiscing of his childhood in the city, where he grew up the child of Jamaican immigrants who got one of his first jobs at the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant directly across the East River from the UN headquarters.

A fan of calypso music, Powell was the subject of criticism from, among others, singing legend Harry Belafonte, who likened Powell to a “house slave” for going along with the decision to invade Iraq. Powell declined to get into a public spat with Belafonte, but made it known that he was not a fan and much preferred the Trinidadian calypso star the “Mighty Sparrow.”

Powell maintained, in a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, that on balance, U.S. succeeded in Iraq.

“I think we had a lot of successes,” Powell said. “Iraq’s terrible dictator is gone.” Saddam was captured by U.S. forces while hiding out in northern Iraq in December 2003 and later executed by the Iraqi government. But the insurgency grew, and the war dragged on far longer than had been foreseen. Obama pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011, but he sent advisers back in 2014 after the Islamic State group swept into the country from Syria and captured large swaths of Iraqi territory.

AP writer Steve Peoples contributed to this report.

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Gophers running back Cam Wiley enters NCAA transfer portal

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Gophers running back Cam Wiley enters NCAA transfer portal

Gophers running back Cam Wiley has entered the NCAA transfer portal, a source confirmed to the Pioneer Press on Monday.

Wiley, a third-year running back from Las Vegas, had carries in the first two games this season, but no rushes in the last four games. With Mo Ibrahim and Trey Potts injured and done for the season, Wiley has seen Bryce Williams, Ky Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving receive the carries.

In social-media posts Monday, Wiley thanked Minnesota, head coach P.J. Fleck, position coach Kenni Burns.

“Thank you for always pushing me beyond my limits and putting me in situations I never been in to help me be successful through my life. This was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, and saying goodbye to my brothers wasn’t easy.”

Williams, a fourth-year player, had a resurgent game in the 30-23 win over Nebraska. After having only five carries in the first five games, Williams had 17 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. His 56-yard TD run with two minutes left helped seal the win for Minnesota.

Irving and Thomas each had seven carries against the Cornhuskers, while Wiley played but didn’t have a rush. Wiley didn’t participate in three games: Colorado, Bowling Green and Purdue.

247sports first reported the news.

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Family says Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications

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Family says Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications

WASHINGTON (AP) — Family says Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications.

In an announcement on social media, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

Powell was the first African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state.

This report will update.

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Gophers in the NFL: Rashod Bateman shows sparks in debut for Ravens

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Gophers in the NFL: Rashod Bateman shows sparks in debut for Ravens

ESPN commentator Louis Riddick hyped new Ravens receiver Rashod Bateman before his NFL debut Sunday.

“It’s really going to get hot for secondaries because this kid is the truth,” Riddick said last week.

After missing the first five games with a groin injury, Bateman had four receptions for 29 yards against the Chargers on Sunday. Each catch went for a first down.

“It was an incredible, fun experience,” said Bateman, the Gophers first first-round pick since 2006. “The Ravens Flock made the atmosphere special, but I think my teammates made it more special. They’ve always had my back through it all, and because of them, I was comfortable and was able to go out and perform. It was fun.”

While Bateman earned his debut, seventh-year veteran Maxx Williams had his season officially end after an ugly hit to his knee in Week 5. The tight end from Waconia had 16 receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown and was on pace to set career highs in all three categories.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out with support!” Williams tweeted. “Your thoughts and prayers mean more to me and my family then words can explain! This is just a speed bump not a road block for my career! Looking forward to being back and stronger next year!”

On Saturday, Gophers current tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford scored his first touchdown of the season and celebrated by stretching out his arms like Williams once did in maroon and gold.

Spann-Ford tweeted pictures of him and Williams doing it, asking, “Is this how you do it big bro?”

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Jaguars linebacker Damien Wilson had a season-high 12 tackles against the Dolphins. … The Panthers released running back Rodney Smith before the Vikings game. Coach Matt Ruhle siad the team “just decided to move on.” Smith had five receptions and no carries in two games this season. … Giants linebacker Carter Coughlin had two tackles in a season-high 12 defensive snaps. … Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell had six tackles. … Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. missed a second straight game with a concussion. … Washington cornerback Benjamin St-Juste had two tackles in 49 percent of defensive snaps versus the Chiefs.

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US, Haiti seek release of 17 missionaries snatched by gang

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US, Haiti seek release of 17 missionaries snatched by gang

By DÁNICA COTO and EVENS SANON

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — U.S. officials are working with Haitian authorities to try to secure the release of 12 adults and five children with a U.S.-based missionary group who were abducted over the weekend by a gang notorious for killings, kidnappings and extortion.

The group was snatched by the 400 Mawozo gang, which controls the Croix-des-Bouquets area east of the capital of Port-au-Prince, police inspector Frantz Champagne told The Associated Press on Sunday. The abduction happened Saturday in the community of Ganthier, which lies in the gang’s area. It was blamed for the kidnapping of five priests and two nuns earlier this year.

As authorities sought the release of the 16 Americans and one Canadian with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, local unions and other organizations expected to launch a strike Monday to protest Haiti’s worsening lack of security.

The Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation is again struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings that had diminished in recent months, after President Jovenel Moïse was fatally shot at his private residence on July 7 and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake killed more than 2,200 people in August.

“Everyone is concerned. They’re kidnapping from all social classes,” Méhu Changeux, president of Haiti’s Association of Owners and Drivers, told Magik9 radio station.

He said the work stoppage would continue until the government could guarantee people’s safety.

The kidnapping of the missionaries came just days after high-level U.S. officials visited Haiti and promised more resources for Haiti’s National Police, including another $15 million to help reduce gang violence, which this year has displaced thousands of Haitians who now live in temporary shelters in increasingly unhygienic conditions.

The U.S. State Department said Sunday that it was in regular contact with senior Haitian authorities and would continue to work with them and interagency partners.

“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the agency said in a statement.

Christian Aid Ministries said the kidnapped group included seven women, five men and five children, including a 2-year-old. The organization said they were taken while on a trip to visit an orphanage.

“Join us in praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers and the families, friends and churches of those affected,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement. “As an organization, we commit this situation to God and trust him to see us through.”

An annual report issued last year by Christian Aid Ministries said its American staffers had returned to their base in Haiti after a nine-month absence “due to political unrest” and noted the “uncertainty and difficulties” that arise from such instability.

Nearly a year ago, Haitian police issued a wanted poster for the alleged leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, Wilson Joseph, on charges including murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, auto theft and the hijacking of trucks carrying goods. He goes by the nickname “Lanmò Sanjou,” which means “death doesn’t know which day it’s coming.”

Amid the spike in kidnappings, gangs have demanded ransoms ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to more than $1 million, sometimes killing those they have abducted, according to authorities.

At least 328 kidnappings were reported to Haiti’s National Police in the first eight months of 2021, compared with a total of 234 for all of 2020, said a report last month by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.

Gangs have been accused of kidnapping schoolchildren, doctors, police officers, busloads of passengers and others as they grow more powerful. In April, a man who claimed to be the leader of 400 Mawozo told a radio station that it was responsible for kidnapping five priests, two nuns and three relatives of one of the priests that month. They were later released.

The spike in kidnappings and gang-related violence has forced Haitians to take detours around certain gang-controlled areas while others opt to stay home, which in turn means less money for people like Charles Pierre, a moto taxi driver in Port-au-Prince who has several children to feed.

“People are not going out in the streets,” he said. “We cannot find people to transport.”

___

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press videographer Pierre-Richard Luxama in Port-au-Prince and AP writers Matthew Lee in Washington and Matt Sedensky in New York contributed to this report.

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Denver weather: Monday expected to hit 75 degrees before cool down

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Denver weather: Monday expected to hit 75 degrees before cool down

While the sun rises later and sets earlier, Denver is still seeing some nice weather, which will continue this week.

According to the National Weather Service in Boulder, Denver will near 75 degrees on Monday with sunny skies. Winds could kick up to 22 mph with snow showers developing in the mountains overnight. A cold front will work its way in overnight, with Denver dropping to 43 degrees. The foothills could have brief bursts of heavier snow as the colder air arrives.

Tuesday will be cooler but still clear, with a high of 61 degrees and 25 mph wind gusts. The low temperature will dip to 34 degrees Tuesday night.

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Protestors disrupt flame lighting for Beijing Winter Games

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Protestors disrupt flame lighting for Beijing Winter Games

By Nicholas Paphitis and Thanassis Stavrakis, The Associated Press

ANCIENT OLYMPIA. Greece — Three activists protesting human rights abuses in China sneaked into the archaeological site where the flame lighting ceremony for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics was being held Monday and ran toward the newly lit torch holding a Tibetan flag and a banner that read “No genocide games.”

The protesters managed to enter the grounds and attempted to reach the Temple of Hera, where the ceremony was being held. They were thrown to the ground by police and detained.

“How can Beijing be allowed to host the Olympics given that they are committing a genocide against the Uyghurs?” one protester said, referring to the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China’s northwest region of Xinjiang.

The flame was lit at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in southern Greece under heavy police security.

With the public excluded amid pandemic safety measures, and a cloudless sky over the verdant site of Ancient Olympia, the flame was ceremoniously kindled using the rays of the sun before being carried off on a mini torch relay.

Earlier, other protestors were detained by Greek police before they could reach the site. Pro-democracy protests also had broken out during the lighting ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.

Despite widespread international criticism of China’s human rights record, the International Olympic Committee has shied away from the issue, saying it falls outside its remit.

In his speech in the ancient stadium of Olympia, where in antiquity male athletes competed naked during a special truce among their often-warring cities, IOC President Thomas Bach stressed that the modern Games must be “respected as politically neutral ground.”

“Only this political neutrality ensures that the Olympic Games can stand above and beyond the political differences that exist in our times,” he said. “The Olympic Games cannot address all the challenges in our world. But they set an example for a world where everyone respects the same rules and one another.”

Tibetan rights activists said in a press release that China was trying to “sportswash” its human rights abuses “with the glamour and veneer of respectability the Olympic Games brings.”

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Colin Powell has died of COVID-19 complications, family says

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Colin Powell has died of COVID-19 complications, family says

WASHIINGTON — Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications, his family said Monday. He was 84.

In an announcement on social media, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

Powell was the first African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state.

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Fire on South Table Mountain sparks Monday morning

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Fire on South Table Mountain sparks Monday morning

A wildfire sparked Monday morning on South Table Mountain, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials estimated the fire to be between three and five acres.

The blaze, just outside of downtown Golden near the Coors factory, was first reported around 3:30 a.m. Monday. Crews put the fire out before 6:30 a.m.

While the fire is 100% contained on South Table Mountain, firefighters will remain on the scene all day, ensuring no flare-ups.

The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined. Multiple fire agencies responded to the scene, no structures were threatened.

A fire burned in the same area in 2017, scorching about 100 acres.

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Water shortage worsening for along northwest Colorado’s Yampa and White

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Water shortage worsening for along northwest Colorado’s Yampa and White

Facing severe droughts along Colorado’s Western Slope, state officials want to take better stock of how much water people, businesses and governments take out of the White and Yampa rivers, both of which flow into the historically low Colorado River.

The White and Yampa rivers traditionally supply a comfortable amount of water compared with other waterways across the state, according to Jeff Lukas, a Lafayette climate consultant and former water scientist with the University of Colorado Boulder. But that’s not as much the case recently.

“The whole Colorado River system is on the wrong side of the knife’s edge in the first part of the 21st century,” Lukas said.

Over the last two decades, the Yampa’s average flow decreased by about 6% from its 20th-century average, Lukas said. And the White’s average flow decreased by about 19%.

So officials with Colorado’s Division of Water Resources want to better track who’s taking water from the rivers — and its tributaries — and how much. Better tracking there would bring the division’s northwest region into line with the rest of the state, where that type of data collection is already more common.

Division officials are hosting stakeholder meetings in the region to develop rules by which water usage will be measured and hope to have the process finished by the end of next year, state Engineer Kevin Rein said. And as more data flows in, the state can better allocate water to those legally allowed to take it, an increasingly precise task as droughts continue to plague the Western Slope.

And in the bigger, and unprecedented, picture, if Colorado is called to work with upper- and lower-basin states because not enough water is passing southwest through the Colorado River, it will need that concrete data in hand, Rein said.

“We just need to know where it’s going,” Brain Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, said. “Every drop counts when it comes to water.”

The process underway in northwest Colorado is part of an increasing nationwide trend to better track water use as droughts become more common, Fuchs said.

Drying rivers

One key indicator that water is tighter in northwest Colorado is that senior water rights holders along the Yampa River are more frequently calling state engineers to shut off supply for junior rights holders until their thirst is quenched, according to Erin Light, water division engineer for the region.

The first ever call like that on the Yampa came in 2018, Light said. Another followed in 2020 and then another this year, both of which only ended after Colorado River conservation officials agreed to release water from the Elkhead Reservoir, northeast of Craig.

Water shortages and calls like those can spell trouble not only for those in Colorado but also millions more downstream.

Water from the Yampa and White rivers flows into the Colorado River and ultimately into Lake Powell, making up to a fifth of the reservoir’s water supply each year, Lukas said.

The reservoir, which sank to its lowest level on record this year, supplies water to about 35 million people, irrigates millions of acres of cropland and generates billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

While calls from senior water rights holders come each year — even in non-drought years — along the Arkansas, Rio Grande and South Platte rivers, Rein said “it’s a new thing to the Yampa.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Rein added.

Not only are those rivers drying due to climate change but more water is allocated from them than the rivers actually have to offer. And now the historically water-abundant Yampa, which is also over-allocated, appears to be joining those ranks, Light said.

“It’s not even just increasing water users but it’s also consumptive use,” Light said. “As our temperatures increase, our crops need more water.”

Accounting for water

As Colorado’s rivers dry up, like the Ogallala Aquifer on the eastern plains or Georgia’s Lake Lanier, for example, governments across the country are working to take better inventory of their water supply, Fuchs said. When those water shortages arise, people start to ask where the water went and who took it.

“All of a sudden these questions are starting to be asked and (governments) can’t really put those cards on the table because they don’t have them,” Fuchs said.

The same logic applies when states strike deals with each other over rivers that cross their borders, Fuchs added. The states not only want to make sure they’re following the agreements but also that they’re keeping as much water as possible.

Colorado’s northwest region represents a gap in the state’s inventory.

As of April, only about 54% of the structures used by water rights holders in Light’s region, which covers Craig and Steamboat Springs, have devices to measure their water usage.

For comparison, about 95% of the structures in the Roaring Fork and Crystal river basins to the southeast have measuring devices, the Summit Daily reported.

In late 2019, Light ordered hundreds of water users in the Yampa River basin to install measuring devices and then in March 2020 she issued formal notices for others along the White and Green rivers to follow suit, the Summit Daily reported. And Light’s office is now holding stakeholder meetings this month across the region as they look to cement consistent rules for what kinds of devices can be used, how they should be maintained and how they measure water use.

Rein said he hopes that the rule-making process could be finished by the end of next year, but he doesn’t want to rush it.

Howard Cooper said he received one of those notices last year and installed head gates and flumes at all the points where his Three Crown Ranch, east of Meeker, diverts water. The mechanisms are designed specifically to measure the flow of water through them.

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