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ST. LOUIS – Airline passengers are headed home Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday, which is traditionally known as the “busiest travel day of the year”.
It’s estimated that 40 to 45-thousand people will be walking through the gates at Lambert International Airport.
The Transportation Security Administration screened nearly 2.3 million people on Wednesday, marking the busiest day since March 2020, just before the pandemic began.
In 2019, 2.6 million were screened the day before Thanksgiving. So today brings some sense of normalcy this holiday weekend, even if that includes all that traffic we’ve come to expect this time of year.
By JAMIE STENGLE, JAKE BLEIBERG and ERIC TUCKER
COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) — The gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the U.S. but raised no red flags, the White House said Tuesday.
Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, arrived in the U.S. at Kennedy Airport in New York about two weeks ago, a law enforcement official said. He spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before the attack Saturday in the suburb of Colleyville.
British media, including the Guardian, reported Tuesday that Akram was investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020, but the investigation was closed after authorities concluded he posed no threat.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Akram appears not to have set off any alarms in U.S. terrorism databases when he entered the country.
“Our understanding, and obviously we’re still looking into this, is that he was checked against U.S. government databases multiple times prior to entering the country, and the U.S. government did not have any derogatory information about the individual in our systems at the time of entry,” Psaki said.
She added: “We’re certainly looking back … what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future.”
The standoff in Colleyville, a city of about 26,000 people 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Dallas, ended after the last of the hostages ran out of the synagogue and an FBI SWAT team rushed in. Akram was killed, but authorities have declined to say who shot him, saying it was still under investigation.
President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was among the hostages, told “ CBS Mornings” that he had let Akram into Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday morning because he appeared to need shelter.
Cytron-Walker said the man wasn’t threatening or suspicious at first, but later he heard a gun click as he was praying.
One hostage was released hours later, and the rabbi and two others later escaped after Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the gunman.
During the standoff, Akram could be heard on a Facebook livestream demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan. The prison where Siddiqui is serving her sentence is in nearby Fort Worth.
An attorney in Texas who represents Siddiqui said the prisoner had no connection to Akram.
The investigation stretched to England, where over the weekend police announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the standoff. The teenagers are Akram’s sons, two U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, police in Britain said the teenagers had been released without charge. They were detained in Manchester, about 30 miles from Akram’s hometown of Blackburn.
Akram’s family said he had been “suffering from mental health issues.”
Federal investigators believe Akram bought the handgun used in the hostage-taking in a private sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still going on.
Stengle reported from Dallas and Tucker reported from Washington. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado in Austin; Michael Balsamo in Washington; and Danica Kirka and Sylvia Hui in London.
Becky Hammon said she has always followed her heart and not worried about what other people think of her career decisions.
There were concerns when she chose to play at Colorado State instead of a bigger school. There was backlash about her playing for Russia in the Olympics and now she has heard rumblings about leaving the NBA and coach the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
“My heart was saying it was time to go. This is where I am supposed to be right now,” she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “There were a lot of sleepless nights getting to this conclusion.”
She spent eight years as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs becoming the first fulltime female coach in NBA history. She learned from one of the NBA’s best in Gregg Popovich and now feels it is time to for a different path, so she pivoted to the WNBA, where she played for many years.
“Las Vegas sees me as a head coach now,” she said. “The WNBA has called every year with job openings. … I’ve always said thank you I’m very flattered, but stayed on this path. This was first time where I was like I’ll listen.” ”
She’s proud of her still–being-written legacy as a trailblazer, having interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs. But for now, her dream of becoming the first woman to lead an NBA team is on hold.
“Women are getting hired in all sorts of positions now. Not just the NBA, but across professional sports leagues,” she said. “For anyone to say the needle hasn’t moved is wrong. The process (interviewing) in Portland moved the needle. It was a great process for me.”
Hammon has heard the outside noise that taking the WNBA job is a step down and she takes umbrage with any who believes it.
“I think it’s an ignorant statement. To think I’ve outgrown the WNBA in a coaching capacity is ridiculous,” she said. “I’d rather be a coach in the WNBA and have my own organization and be running a team.”
There are still a half dozen women assistant coaches in the NBA. Hammon’s resume jas earned her plenty of respect: A person familiar with her contract says she will be the WNBA’s highest-paid coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the deal has not been publicly announced, and they are still unclear.
“It’s a great opportunity to have a head coaching job at that level.,” Popovich said. “To prove herself. She’s already proven herself to me, but that doesn’t matter in the long run. She’s interviewed for a few jobs in the NBA, and she’s more than qualified and would have done a great job.”
Hammon will be pulling double-duty for the next few months until the Spurs’ season is over. One of the first things that she’ll have to do is hire her own coaching staff. She’s begun calling Aces’ players to get to know them.
“Right now I’m reaching out to all the players on the roster,” she said. “Establish a relationship with them and talk a little bit about roles what we’re doing offensively and defensively.”
The Aces finished with the second-best record in the WNBA last season at 24-8 before falling to the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals. The franchise, looking for its first WNBA title, has a solid core led by former MVP A’ja Wilson.
Hammon was coy about what her on-court philosophy will be, only saying that the team which was last in 3-pointers attempted will definitely shoot more this season. The 44-year-old former WNBA player says she just wants to coach for now and not worry about being the team’s general manager.
“Down the road we’ll talk. I just want to coach. That’s it. Get out there, get with the players,” Hammon said. “Get in the foxhole with each other.”
Avalanche center Nazem Kadri is headed to his first NHL All-Star Game. So is Colorado native and former Denver Pioneers standout Troy Terry.
The two forwards, along with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel, were announced on Tuesday as the league’s “Last Men In” for their respective divisions at the Feb. 5 exhibition game in Las Vegas. Kadri will also participate in the weekend’s skills challenge.
Kadri, 31, received the most number of votes, according to the league. This season, he is fifth in the NHL with 49 points (14 goals and 35 assists) and fourth in points-per game (1.48). He will join teammates Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar and head coach Jared Bednar on the Central Division squad. MacKinnon was selected by the fans as team captain.
This is the first time since 2019 that there Avs players were selected to the game.
The Denver-born Terry, 24, will represent the Ducks on the Pacific Division team. In 38 games this season, he’s recorded 36 points (22 goals and 14 assists) for Anaheim.
Here are the players who were named to the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, which takes place Feb. 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Number of all-star appearances in parentheses. Asterisks denote fan-voted captains.
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