‘We are prepared’: Deadly Hurricane Nate approaches US Gulf Coast

US Gulf Coast residents scrambled with last-minute preparations Saturday as the outer bands of Hurricane Nate began lashing New Orleans amid fears the storm could intensify to a powerful Category Two hurricane.

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Nate spawned widespread flooding and left dozens of people dead in Central America, the latest in a series of deadly hurricanes to hammer Caribbean islands, Mexico and the southeastern US in this exceptionally busy hurricane season.

But US President Donald Trump said federal officials were prepared for the fast-moving storm. He urged residents of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida on Twitter to “listen to your local authorities & be safe!”

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As a weary and sodden region prepared for its third hurricane in two months – filling sandbags, stocking up on essential supplies or packing cars to flee – New Orleans, which was ravaged by deadly Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and other cities on the coast were under a hurricane warning.

Nate’s center was located 180 miles (290 kilometres) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, with winds swirling at 90 miles per hour, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said at 11:00am (1500 GMT).

The storm, a Category One hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, was intensifying as it moves toward the northwest rapidly at 26 miles per hour and is forecast to hit the Gulf Coast with winds of at least 96 miles per hour, the NHC said.

0:00 Louisiana governor warns of approaching tropical storm Nate Share Louisiana governor warns of approaching tropical storm Nate

‘Dangerous storm surge’

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the NHC warned.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey tweeted that she had asked Trump for a presidential declaration of emergency, “to ensure we have all possible resources in place to respond to #HurricaneNate.”

Trump earlier issued an emergency declaration allowing federal aid to be sent to help mitigate the storm’s impact.

New Orleans issued a mandatory curfew for Saturday from 6:00 pm, and mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders were issued for certain low-lying areas.

Swells expected to affect the northwestern Caribbean over the weekend “are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the US forecasters said.

Officials said the recent hurricanes, devastating as they were, actually helped with preparations for Nate, since emergency supplies and assets deployed for the earlier storms were still in place. Still, the resources of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been stretched.

National Guardsmen were prepared to ride out the storm in the city’s huge Superdome arena, ready to respond once Nate passes over, the nola南京夜生活, news website reported.

Our great team at @FEMA is prepared for #HurricaneNate. Everyone in LA, MS, AL, and FL please listen to your local authorities & be safe!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2017’Prepare now’

As New Orleans braced for yet another powerful hurricane, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that “our greatest threat … is not necessarily rain, but strong winds and storm surge.” 

The mayor urged residents in three areas under mandatory evacuation orders to leave by noon, when nearby floodgates were closing.

The city’s levee system has been considerably fortified since Katrina claimed some 1,800 lives in the region, but authorities warn that it has not completely eliminated flood risks.

Unlike Hurricane Harvey, which dumped record amounts of rain as it hovered over neighboring Texas for a week, fast-moving Nate was expected to pass through quickly along a northerly path.

Still, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned that Nate could cause unexpected damage.

“Anyone in low-lying areas … we are urging them to prepare now,” he said.

Oil rigs evacuated

In neighboring Mississippi, lines formed at gas stations in areas along the potential path of the storm. Off the coast, some oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated.

The Entergy electric utility warned users that power outages could last as long as a week.

The United States is recovering from two major hurricanes: Harvey, which tore through Texas and then Louisiana in August, and Irma, which slammed Florida in September.

Another powerful storm, Hurricane Maria, ripped through the Caribbean in late September, devastating several islands, including Dominica and Puerto Rico, a US territory.

When Nate struck Central America on Thursday and Friday, at least 31 people were killed and others were still missing.

Intense rains forced thousands from their homes, uprooting trees, knocking out bridges and turning roads into rivers.

Authorities in some areas warned that crocodiles might be roaming after rivers and estuaries flooded.

The Atlantic hurricane season normally runs from June to November.

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Traffic crash in London sparks major terror alert

A taxi driver sparked a major terror alert when his car ploughed into pedestrians in the heart of one of London’s busiest tourist areas, leaving 11 people injured.

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People fled for their lives after the black Toyota Prius mounted the pavement close to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington on Saturday afternoon.

Video footage posted on Twitter showed a man being restrained on the ground by members of the public after the incident in the heart of the capital’s museums district, an area popular with families with young children.

But police later confirmed the incident was “not being treated as a terror-related incident” and a man had been arrested over a traffic collision.

Those hurt were mostly suffering from head or leg injuries, the London Ambulance Service said, with nine taken to hospital. None were in a life-threatening condition.

The incident in #ExhibitionRoad #SouthKensington earlier is not being treated as a terror-related incident. It is a road traffic collision.

— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) October 7, 2017

Pictures and footage from the scene in Exhibition Road showed street damage and a massive police presence in the upmarket area, home to the museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

Some showed the black Toyota Prius, registered with Transport for London (TfL) as a mini cab, that had collided with a silver Vauxhall saloon and a Jaguar.

Sophie Parry and Lesley Guinness were on their way to the V&A’s Pink Floyd exhibition when they saw the driver of a black vehicle swerve across the road and hit a cyclist.

Parry said: “I thought maybe someone might have had a heart attack behind the wheel.

“Because I thought, this is strange for a vehicle – it must have been going pretty slow there to career across and do all that damage.

The friends said they saw people running away from the scene, after three “gunshot-like” bangs rang out a few seconds before the cyclist was struck.

Merilin Mueller, who works in a nearby cafe said police made her evacuate .

“It just seemed like an accident because there was a police car. We couldn’t see outside.

“Then there were loads of police cars and that’s when all of these police came marching down saying, ‘move, move’.

Downing Street had said that Prime Minister Theresa May was being kept up to date with developments.

Later on Twitter, she said: “My thanks to the first responders at this incident this afternoon and the actions of members of the public. My thoughts are with the injured.”

Soccer – Swiss turn on the style on nightmare evening for Gulacsi

The Swiss, with 27 points from nine games in European Group B, will now travel to Lisbon needing a draw away to Portugal to clinch top spot and a direct place in Russia.

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However, they will be overhauled if they lose to the European champions who have won eight straight matches since their 2-0 defeat in Basel at the start of the campaign in September last year. Gulacsi gifted the Swiss an 18th minute opener when he took a heavy first touch to control a straightforward back pass, slipped as he tried to regain his ground and allowed Granit Xhaka to steal the ball and score.

Fabian Frei added to Gulacsi’s misery two minutes later by finishing off a flowing move with a side-footed shot which deflected off Barnabas Bese.

Brimming with confidence, the Swiss should have had a third when Xherdan Shaqiri sent a low ball across the face of the Hungary area but Haris Seferovic contrived to miss from point-blank range.

The Swiss refused to let up and, after they won possession just outside the Hungary area, Shaqiri slipped ball to Steven Zuber who slotted his shot past Gulacsi for the third in the 43rd minute.

Zuber struck again four minutes after the break following another mistake by Gulacsi who got a hand to the Swiss player’s dipping shot only to see it drop into the net.

Richard Guzmics pulled one back in the 58th minute with a hooked effort although Gulacsi’s opposite number Yann Sommer was at fault for only palming away a corner.

Stephan Lichtsteiner drilled home Switzerland’s fifth in the 83rd minute before Roland Ugrai pulled another back for Hungary after Sommer flapped at another corner on an unhappy night for goalkeepers.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Rex Gowar)

Finch confident Maxwell will find T20 form

Aaron Finch has backed Glenn Maxwell to end his wretched run of form which continued with another disappointing showing against India.

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Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has claimed Maxwell’s wicket all four times he’s batted on the tour, needing just 17 balls to do so.

Maxwell fell to him again in Sunday’s first T20 international defeat in Ranchi for 17, as Australia’s middle order again folded and lost the match.

It was a rank long-hop which Maxwell pulled straight to mid-wicket that ended his innings – a shot that summed up his recent struggles with the bat.

Finch said his Victoria teammate has dominated bowling attacks in Indian conditions before and can do it again with two matches remaining in the series.

“I don’t think it’s far away,” Finch said.

“I think just a few game plan tinkers here and there would go a long way to probably just taking the pressure off himself,” Finch said.

“He probably feels as though people expect him to strike at 200 like everyone knows that he can, and hit six after six.”

Maxwell returned to the Australian line-up after being dropped for the final two ODIs due to a lack of runs.

After starting the series with 39 off 18 balls in a rain-shortened match in Chennai, Maxwell made 14 and 5 before selectors wielded the axe.

“It’s obviously always tough when somebody gets dropped, I’ve been there I know the feeling too well,” Finch said.

“Particularly when you’re on tour, you tend to go insular but he was the exact opposite.”

With the injured Steve Smith heading back to Australia, Maxwell batted at No. 3 in the T20.

Finch said the new role for a predominantly middle order player would take some adjustment.

“Batting No. 3 is a different responsibility in this format for him,” Finch said.

“It is a different role and can take a little bit of time to get your head around.”

Maxwell and the Australian team need to rebound quickly to save a second series loss in India, with the must-win second T20 in Guwahati on Tuesday.

Leeds stun Castleford in Super League GF

Danny McGuire insisted he had no regrets about his decision to leave Leeds after he inspired the Rhinos to a record-extending eighth Super League title.

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The veteran halfback was playing in his final match for his hometown club and he produced a kicking masterclass to guide Leeds to a 24-6 victory over Castleford in the grand final.

McGuire added a brace of tries and two drop-goals to deservedly win a second Harry Sunderland Trophy in three years.

The 34-year-old helped launch Leeds’ golden era with a title-clinching try against Bradford in 2004 and has made a habit of saving his best for Old Trafford.

But the Rhinos will defend their crown in 2018 without their captain after allowing him to join Hull KR.

“I made the decision and I’ve got to stick by it,” said McGuire. “The new challenge is going to be good for me.”

Like Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai in 2015, McGuire – along with his long-time halfback partner Rob Burrow – enjoyed the perfect ending to his Leeds career.

Castleford had won their previous eight meetings with their big-city neighbours and eased to League Leaders’ Shield success but the Tigers had no answer to grand final experts Leeds on their maiden Old Trafford appearance.

McGuire, who also laid on the first of two tries for Tom Briscoe, admitted he could not have dreamt of a better finish.

It was a humbling first grand final experience for Castleford, who finished 10 points clear of nearest challengers Leeds in the Super League table.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t do ourselves justice,” said coach Daryl Powell.

“If we’d done that and got beat then you can hold your hands up and say ‘fair enough’.

“Leeds didn’t see the best of us tonight and massively deserved the win. But they didn’t have much to beat.”

Gay marriage lobby declares its resilience

Same-sex marriage advocates have declared they are “as tough as nails” and will get through Australia’s divisive national debate and postal survey together.

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Supporters gathered in Sydney’s Taylor Square, off Oxford Street, on Sunday for a colourful street party featuring Love Is in the Air singer John Paul Young.

Equality campaign organiser Alex Greenwich encouraged the crowd to keep the focus positive despite a group of seven same-sex marriage opponents who staged a counter rally.

“We’re going to ignore them because our campaign is all about uniting people around Australia’s values of fairness and equality,” he said.

The group of seven, which included activist Kat A Klayton, who was tied to Sydney’s controversial “Vote No” skywriting, left part-way through the performances.

Keep Sydney Open figure Tyson Koh was keen to acknowledge the national debate had been tough for many vulnerable members of the Australian LGBTIQ community.

“It’s worth also acknowledging that we are a resilient bunch. We always have been,” he said.

“The gay and lesbian community, the queer community of Sydney and Australia, is as tough as nails and we will get through this with love, with fun, with compassion by sticking together.”

The colourful crowd, which included dozens of rainbow flags, same-sex marriage signs and several rainbow-adorned dogs, erupted when Young’s famous song Love Is in the Air began.

“Now off you go and get married,” he said when the track came to a close.

Mr Greenwich said the event, which also included performances from singer Ricki-Lee Coulter and electronic music duo Peking Duk, was designed to encourage people to return their ballots at the halfway point of the campaign.

“We really need to make sure as many people vote as possible and as many people play a part in this once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape our nation as a fairer and more equal place,” he said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates about 57 per cent of ballots had been received as of last Friday.

The result of the voluntary postal survey will be announced on November 15.

Trump ‘not at all surprised’ by Harvey Weinstein allegations

“I’ve known Harvey Weinstein for a very long time, I’m not at all surprised to see it,” President Trump told reporters outside the White House.

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His comments came after the New York Times published a bombshell report earlier this week which alleged Weinstein, whose company produced such hits as “The King’s Speech” and “Django Unchained,” preyed on young women hoping to break into the film industry.

The scandal was pounced on by Republicans because Weinstein has been a major backer of Democrat candidates.

Many Democrat lawmakers have since vowed to turn over their contributions from Weinstein to charity.

Trump faced his own sex scandal last year when video emerged of him using lewd language to describe groping women.

Asked about the tape on Saturday, Trump dismissed it “locker room talk,” as he has done in the past.

Lisa Bloom, one of Weinstein’s lawyers who specializes in sexual harassment cases, said Thursday that her 65-year-old client “denies many of the accusations as patently false.”

“He has acknowledged mistakes he has made,” she wrote. “He is reading books and going to therapy. He is an old dinosaur learning new ways.”

His accusers, the Times said, were mainly young women hoping to break into the film industry and include celebrities such as Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd.

The accusers say Weinstein forced them to massage him, watch him naked and promised to help advance their careers in exchange for sexual favors.

Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd.AAP

Meanwhile overnight the Weinstein Company launched an internal probe over the harassment claims against co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, confirming he has taken an “indefinite” leave of absence.

The revelations prompted three of the company’s nine board members to resign, according to The New York Times.

“We strongly endorse Harvey Weinstein’s already-announced decision to take an indefinite leave of absence from the company, commencing today,” said a statement signed Friday by four board members: Bob Weinstein, Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov and Richard Koenigsberg.

“As Harvey has said… it is important for him to get professional help for the problems he has acknowledged.

0:00 Australian students respond to sexual assault and harassment report Share Australian students respond to sexual assault and harassment report

No change to age kids can be detained: PM

New counter-terrorism laws that could lead to 10-year-old children being locked up for two weeks without charges simply standardise measures now in place across the country, Malcolm Turnbull insists.

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Young children can already be charged with crimes under Australian laws, the prime minister says.

“Is very important to remember that (with) children there is actually no change here. Under our criminal law, children can be charged with committing crimes,” he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

The move to a 14-day detention period would allow police in all jurisdictions to hold people for the same length of time before laying charges, subject to oversight by a magistrate.

The harsh “pre-charge” detention scheme for terror suspects was part of a suite of measures agreed to at a special Council of Australian Governments counter-terror meeting in Canberra this week.

It’s drawn criticism from the Law Council of Australia and shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus, who described the move as a “shocking and drastic step”.

Mr Turnbull accused Mr Dreyfus of crab-walking away from a bipartisan commitment to keeping Australians safe.

“This is very, very important as a tool for the police and security agencies to keep us safe from terrorism,” the prime minister said.

“We need an absolute united front, a full-court press, in giving our police the means that they need to keep us safe.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said successive changes to counter-terrorism laws chipped away at civil liberties in the same way that terror attacks and plots chipped away at Australians’ sense of safety and security.

“The notion that laws that might have worked, systems, processes, procedures that might have worked a year ago or 20 years ago are fit for purpose today, that is a deluded view,” he told ABC TV on Sunday.

“There is not the luxury to effective political leaders to have an esoteric debate.”

New Orleans and Gulf Coast hunker down as Hurricane Nate makes landfall

Hurricane Nate has made landfall at the mouth of the Mississippi River on the south-eastern tip of the state of Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday.

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The storm was packing winds of 85 miles (140 kilometres) per hour as it was bearing north at 20 miles (31 kilometres) per hour.

Nate caused widespread flooding and left dozens of people dead in Central America, the latest in a series of deadly storms to hammer Caribbean islands, Mexico and the south-eastern US in this exceptionally busy hurricane season.

RELATED:

US Gulf Coast residents scrambled with last-minute preparations as the outer bands of Hurricane Nate began lashing New Orleans.

But US President Donald Trump said federal officials were prepared for the fast-moving storm.

He urged residents of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida on Twitter to “listen to your local authorities & be safe!”

As a weary and sodden region prepared for its third hurricane in two months – filling sandbags, stocking up on essential supplies or packing cars to flee – New Orleans, which was ravaged by deadly Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and other cities on the coast were under a hurricane warning.

0:00 Louisiana governor warns of approaching tropical storm Nate Share Louisiana governor warns of approaching tropical storm Nate

‘Dangerous storm surge’

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the NHC warned.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey tweeted that she had asked Trump for a presidential declaration of emergency, “to ensure we have all possible resources in place to respond to #HurricaneNate.”

Trump earlier issued an emergency declaration allowing federal aid to be sent to help mitigate the storm’s impact.

New Orleans issued a mandatory curfew for Saturday from 6:00pm, and mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders were issued for certain low-lying areas.

Swells expected to affect the north-western Caribbean over the weekend “are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the US forecasters said.

Officials said the recent hurricanes, devastating as they were, actually helped with preparations for Nate, since emergency supplies and assets deployed for the earlier storms were still in place.

Still, the resources of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been stretched.

National Guardsmen were prepared to ride out the storm in the city’s huge Superdome arena, ready to respond once Nate passes over, the nola南京夜生活, news website reported.

Our great team at @FEMA is prepared for #HurricaneNate. Everyone in LA, MS, AL, and FL please listen to your local authorities & be safe!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2017’Prepare now’

As New Orleans braced for yet another powerful hurricane, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that “our greatest threat … is not necessarily rain, but strong winds and storm surge.” 

The mayor urged residents in three areas under mandatory evacuation orders to leave by noon, when nearby floodgates were closing.

The city’s levee system has been considerably fortified since Katrina claimed some 1,800 lives in the region, but authorities warn that it has not completely eliminated flood risks.

Unlike Hurricane Harvey, which dumped record amounts of rain as it hovered over neighbouring Texas for a week, fast-moving Nate was expected to pass through quickly along a northerly path.

Still, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned that Nate could cause unexpected damage.

“Anyone in low-lying areas … we are urging them to prepare now,” he said.

As #HurricaneNate approaches, listen to local officials & follow this list of trusted accounts for up-to-date info: 南京桑拿,南京SPA,/imjr7ryNgP 南京桑拿,南京SPA,/Lny88GoWIT

— FEMA (@fema) October 7, 2017Oil rigs evacuated

In neighbouring Mississippi, lines formed at gas stations in areas along the potential path of the storm. Off the coast, some oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated.

The Entergy electric utility warned users that power outages could last as long as a week.

The United States is recovering from two major hurricanes: Harvey, which tore through Texas and then Louisiana in August, and Irma, which slammed Florida in September.

Another powerful storm, Hurricane Maria, ripped through the Caribbean in late September, devastating several islands, including Dominica and Puerto Rico, a US territory.

When Nate struck Central America on Thursday and Friday, at least 31 people were killed and others were still missing.

Intense rains forced thousands from their homes, uprooting trees, knocking out bridges and turning roads into rivers.

Authorities in some areas warned that crocodiles might be roaming after rivers and estuaries flooded.

The Atlantic hurricane season normally runs from June to November.

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Diamonds close to Constellation Cup win

Australia’s netball team have all but secured the Constellation Cup after a 60-52 win against New Zealand in Christchurch in the second Test.

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Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby admits there are still shortfalls which need fixing, with the Diamonds needing just one more win in the next two matches in Adelaide and Sydney to wrap up the four-Test series.

After edging the Kiwis 57-54 in Auckland three days ago, Australia were ruthlessly efficient across all four quarters at Horncastle Arena on Sunday.

“We had a great start, but I thought we let it slip in the last couple of minutes of the first quarter, and ultimately we paid a bit more of a price tonight than we wanted to,” Southby said.

“I can’t fault the intensity and the work rate people have put out there.

“I think our connections are still not where they need to be, and at times we were just not using the court as well as we can, or have confidence in each other to let the ball go.”

New Zealand’s accuracy was solid enough, led by Maria Tutaia’s 26 goals from 29, but the volume of ball into their shooters lagged behind Australia, who never looked back after closing the first quarter with a five-goal run to lead 14-11.

Ahead 29-26 at half-time and 44-39 at the three-quarter mark, the Diamonds shut down any likelihood of a Silver Ferns comeback, even if they didn’t quite achieve coach Lisa Alexander’s targets.

“There’s been a lot of growth in the group, in digging in,” Alexander said.

“They really stuck to the game plan and implemented it, and lifted their intensity in defence, and that was very pleasing.”

Alexander wanted her team to dominate and to put the foot down when they had the chance, and she said there were glimpses of that ruthlessness.

“I think there were some opportunities, particularly in that first half when we went out to five at one stage and really should have pushed on.

“It’s those little silly errors that are costing us – we’re still not taking care of the details well enough.”

Shooter and skipper Caitlin Bassett, who dominated the front space and nailed 40 of her 44 attempts, said she’d been pleased with her team’s work in the attacking third, where Liz Watson and Kim Ravaillion were always half a pace ahead.

“I think the girls were a lot better with their placement of the ball tonight,” Bassett said.

“We were hitting the circle edge and Lizzie Watson in particular was so strong and has got such fast hands that it’s really hard to stop her.”