AP News in Brief at 6:02 a.m. EDT – Miami Herald

Taliban say they took Panjshir, last holdout Afghan province

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban said on Monday they have taken control of Panjshir province north of Kabul, the last holdout of anti-Taliban forces in the country and the only province the Taliban had not seized during their blitz across Afghanistan last month.

Thousands of Taliban fighters overran eight districts of Panjshir overnight, according to witnesses from the area who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement, saying Panjshir was now under control of Taliban fighters.

“We tried our best to solve the problem through negotiations, and they rejected talks and then we had to send our forces to fight,” Mujahid told a press conference in Kabul later Monday.

The anti-Taliban forces had been led by the former vice president, Amrullah Saleh, and also the son of the iconic anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud who was killed just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Meanwhile in northern Balkh province, at least four planes chartered to evacuate several hundred people seeking to escape the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan have been unable to leave the country for days, officials said Sunday, with conflicting accounts emerging about why the flights weren’t able to take off as pressure ramps up on the U.S. to help those left behind to leave.

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Two anchors of COVID safety net ending, affecting millions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mary Taboniar went 15 months without a paycheck, thanks to the COVID pandemic. A housekeeper at the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort in Honolulu, the single mother of two saw her income completely vanish as the virus devastated the hospitality industry.

For more than a year, Taboniar depended entirely on boosted unemployment benefits and a network of local foodbanks to feed her family. Even this summer as the vaccine rollout took hold and tourists began to travel again, her work was slow to return, peaking at 11 days in August — about half her pre-pandemic workload.

Taboniar is one of millions of Americans for whom Labor Day 2021 represents a perilous crossroads. Two primary anchors of the government’s COVID protection package are ending or have recently ended. Starting Monday, an estimated 8.9 million people will lose all unemployment benefits. A federal eviction moratorium already has expired.

While other aspects of pandemic assistance including rental aid and the expanded Child Tax Credit are still widely available, untold millions of Americans will face Labor Day with a suddenly shrunken social safety net.

“This will be a double whammy of hardship,” said Jamie Contreras, secretary-treasurer of the SEIU, a union that represents custodians in office buildings and food service workers in airports. “We’re not anywhere near done. People still need help. … For millions of people nothing has changed from a year and a half ago.”

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Ida-ravaged apartment complex forces tenants to pack, plan

HOUMA, La. (AP) — Allison Smith wasn’t thinking about where she’d go next. She’d kept the boxes from when she moved into her 2-bedroom apartment at the Chateau Creole complex a year ago and was planning to fill them with her clothes and other belongings, load them into a U-Haul along with her bed and sofa, and drive it to the closest storage unit she’d found — two hours away. Then she’d think about where to live.

“I haven’t even thought that far,” said Smith, as she and her boyfriend packed.

The residents of the apartment complex loaded up moving trucks, packed up what belongings could be salvaged and contemplated what to do next after Hurricane Ida’s devastating winds and lashing rains rendered what had been home unlivable. For many, there weren’t a lot of good options.

Ida swept ashore Aug. 29 and Houma, a town of about 33,000 residents, was the first major population center in its path. Power isn’t expected to be restored to the parish until Sept. 29, and that’s only for homes and businesses structurally sound enough to take power. Many aren’t.

At the apartment complex, shingles littered the parking garage and pink tufts of insulation stuck to the exterior walls. Some of the buildings had lost large sections of siding. In others, the roof decking had ripped off and rain soaked the pink insulation that fell into the apartments below.

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How 9/11 changed air travel: more security, less privacy

DALLAS (AP) — Ask anyone old enough to remember travel before Sept. 11, 2001, and you’re likely to get a gauzy recollection of what flying was like.

There was security screening, but it wasn’t anywhere near as intrusive. There were no long checkpoint lines. Passengers and their families could walk right to the gate together, postponing goodbye hugs until the last possible moment. Overall, an airport experience meant far less stress.

That all ended when four hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

The worst terror attack on American soil led to increased and sometimes tension-filled security measures in airports across the world, aimed at preventing a repeat of that awful day. The cataclysm has also contributed to other changes large and small that have reshaped the airline industry — and, for consumers, made air travel more stressful than ever.

Two months after the attacks, President George W. Bush signed legislation creating the Transportation Security Administration, a force of federal airport screeners that replaced the private companies that airlines were hiring to handle security. The law required that all checked bags be screened, cockpit doors be reinforced, and more federal air marshals be put on flights.

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Florida gunman killed 4, including mom still holding baby

A man wearing full body armor fatally shot four people, including a mother and the 3-month-old baby she was cradling, and engaged in a massive gunfight with police and deputies before he was wounded and surrendered, a Florida sheriff said Sunday. An 11-year-old girl who was shot seven times survived.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference that even after 33-year-old Bryan Riley was arrested Sunday morning, he was so aggressive that he tried to wrestle a gun from police as he lay on his hospital gurney.

Judd said Riley, a former Marine who served as a sharpshooter in both Iraq and Afghanistan, seemed to have targeted his victims at random and appeared to be suffering from mental health issues. Judd said Riley’s girlfriend told authorities Riley had been slowly unraveling for weeks and repeatedly told her that he could communicate directly with God.

“They begged for their lives and I killed them anyway,” Judd said Riley told them during an interrogation.

Investigators said preliminary evidence shows 40-year-old Justice Gleason just happened to be an unlucky stranger out mowing his lawn Saturday night when Riley drove by his home in Lakeland, about 30 miles (48.28 kilometers) east of Tampa, saying God told him to stop because Gleason’s daughter was going to commit suicide.

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Guinea’s new junta leaders seek to tighten grip on power

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea’s new military leaders sought to tighten their grip on power after overthrowing President Alpha Conde, warning local officials that refusing to appear at a meeting convened Monday would be considered an act of rebellion against the junta.

After putting the West African nation back under military rule for the first time in over a decade, the junta said Guinea’s governors were to be replaced by regional commanders. A nightly curfew was put in place, and the country’s constitution and National Assembly were both dissolved.

The military junta also refused to issue a timeline for releasing Conde, saying the 83-year-old deposed leader still had access to medical care and his doctors. The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS, though, called for his immediate release and threatened to impose sanctions if the demand was not met.

Conde’s removal by force Sunday came after the president sought a controversial third term in office last year, saying the term limits did not apply to him. While the political opposition and the junta both sought his ouster, it remained unclear Monday how united the two would be going forward.

It also was unknown how much support the junta leader Col. Mamadi Doumbouya had within the larger military. As the commander of the army’s special forces unit he directed elite soldiers but it was still possible that others who remained loyal to the ousted president could mount a countercoup in the coming hours or days.

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Israeli police launch manhunt after 6 prisoners break out

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli forces on Monday launched a massive manhunt in northern Israel and the occupied West Bank after six Palestinian prisoners escaped overnight from a high-security facility in an extremely rare breakout.

Officials said they have erected roadblocks and are conducting patrols in the area. Israel’s Army Radio also said 400 prisoners are being moved as a protective measure against any additional escape attempts. The radio said the prisoners escaped through a tunnel from the Gilboa prison, which is supposed to be one of Israel’s most secure facilities. The men reportedly appeared to have received some outside help.

Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, called it a “grave incident” that required maximum effort by Israel’s various security branches.

He said he was receiving constant updates on the prison break, which occurred just hours before Israel was to mark the Jewish New Year. Authorities apparently did not believe the escaped prisoners posed a threat to the general public, and there were no instructions for people to alter their routines. The prison is about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the West Bank border.

Police commander Shimon Ben Shabo said officials have reinforced emergency response call centers in the area to respond to any reports about the prisoners and there are “forces available to arrive at any location.”

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Volunteers help poorest survive Thailand’s worst COVID surge

BANGKOK (AP) — For two months, carpenter Tun Nye hasn’t been able to send any money home to his parents in Myanmar to help them care for his 11-year-old son, after authorities in Thailand shut down his construction site over coronavirus concerns.

No work has meant no income for him or his wife, who have been confined to one of more than 600 workers’ camps dotted around Bangkok, living in small room in a ramshackle building with boards and blankets to cover missing windows.

In Thailand’s worst virus surge yet, lockdown measures have reduced what little Bangkok’s have-nots had to zero. Volunteer groups are working to ensure they survive.

For Tun Nye, 31, the bag of rice, canned fish and other staples dropped off by Bangkok Community Help volunteers meant not having to go hungry that week.

“It’s been three or four months with no money and we don’t have enough to eat,” he said after collecting his supplies. “And there’s no option to go home to Myanmar, it’s worse there.”

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Brazil-Argentina qualifier suspended in coronavirus dispute

SAO PAULO (AP) — A World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina was suspended amid chaotic scenes after local health officials walked onto the pitch on Sunday in a bid to remove three players who didn’t comply with coronavirus restrictions.

The match featuring Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar was stopped in the 7th minute because of the extraordinary interruption. The referee eventually suspended the game with the score at 0-0 after players, coaches, football officials and local authorities argued for several minutes on the field at NeoQuimica Arena.

Brazil’s health agency said three of Argentina’s England-based players should have been in quarantine instead of playing in the match. FIFA will have to determine what happens next with the qualifier.

Antonio Barra Torres, the president of Brazil’s health agency, Anvisa, said four Argentina players would be fined and deported for breaching Brazil’s COVID-19 protocols.

The four had been ordered to quarantine by Brazil’s health agency ahead of the match. Despite that order, three of the four started for Argentina.

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Evacuations lifted for thousands in Tahoe as wildfire stalls

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) — Tens of thousands of people who fled South Lake Tahoe in the teeth of a wildfire were returning home as crews finally managed to stall the advance of flames scant miles from the resort.

But authorities warned that residents of the scenic forest area on the California-Nevada state line weren’t out of the woods yet, with risks ranging from smoky, foul air to belligerent bears.

Evacuation orders for South Lake Tahoe and other lakeside areas were downgraded to warnings on Sunday afternoon and California Highway Patrol officers began removing roadblocks along State Highway 50 from Nevada to the city limits.

The threat from the Caldor Fire hasn’t entirely vanished but downgrading to a warning meant those who wish could return to their homes in what had been a smoke-choked ghost town instead of a thriving Labor Day getaway location.

“So far it hasn’t been a mad rush of cars,” South Lake Tahoe Fire Chief Clive Savacool said at an evening briefing. “We’re happy to see that people are slowly trickling in, just because the city does need time to get ready.”