Supreme Court: Ginsburg treated for tumor on pancreas

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has completed radiation therapy for a tumor on her pancreas and there is no evidence of the disease remaining.
The court said Friday the tumor was “treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body.”
In a statement, the court said a biopsy performed July 31 confirmed a “localized malignant tumor.” The court said Ginsburg does not need any additional treatment but will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans.
The court said Ginsburg canceled an annual summer visit to Santa Fe but has otherwise maintained an active schedule during treatment.
Ginsburg, who is 86, has had several bouts with cancer beginning in 1999. In December, 2018, she had surgery for cancerous growths on her left lung.

California town devastated by fire turns to football to heal

By ADAM BEAM Associated Press
PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — A high school football team in a Northern California town that was mostly destroyed by a wildfire is a year ago is playing its first game since the blaze.
The Paradise High School Bobcats are scheduled to play Williams High School on Friday. It’s their first time back since a wildfire destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings and killed 86 people in November 2018.
Head Coach Rick Prinz said the team has 35 players, down from 56 last year as the school has lost nearly half of its students who were forced to move away.
School officials said they expect about 5,000 people to attend the game. The team will enter the field through the home stands, led by last year’s seniors who never got to play in their final game.

Illinois patient’s death may be first in US tied to vaping

By DON BABWIN Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois health officials said Friday that a patient who contracted a serious lung disease after vaping has died, which could make it the first death in the United States linked to the smoking alternative that has become popular with teens and young adults.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said in a news release that the patient, who was between 17 and 38 years old, had been hospitalized after falling ill following vaping, though it didn’t give other information about the person, including the patient’s name, hometown or date of death.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a news release in which it said 149 people nationwide had contracted a severe respiratory illness after vaping, but that there hadn’t been any deaths reported as of then. CDC officials didn’t immediately reply to a Friday phone message seeking comment.
The Illinois agency said in its release that the number of people who contracted a respiratory illness after vaping had doubled in the past week, to 22.
“The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in the release. “We requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help us investigate these cases and they arrived in Illinois on Tuesday.”
All of the illnesses reported by the CDC were in teens or adults who had used an electronic cigarette or some other kind of vaping device. Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the lungs apparently reacting to a caustic substance. So far, infectious diseases have been ruled out.
Health officials around the country have been reporting patients getting sick after vaping, two in Connecticut, four in Iowa and six in Ohio that were announced Friday. They are asking doctors and hospitals to tell state health officials about any possible vaping-related lung disease cases they encounter.

Billionaire conservative donor David Koch dies at 79

By STEVE PEOPLES Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Billionaire industrialist David H. Koch, who with his older brother Charles was both celebrated and demonized for transforming American politics by pouring their riches into conservative causes, died Friday at 79.
The cause of death was not disclosed, but Koch Industries said Koch, who lived in New York City, had contended for years with various illnesses, including prostate cancer.
A chemical engineer by training, Koch was an executive in the family-run conglomerate, the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980 and a major benefactor of educational, medical and cultural organizations.
But he and his brother became best known for building a political network dubbed the “Kochtopus” for its many-tentacled support of conservative and libertarian causes and candidates.
The brothers in 2004 founded the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity, which remains one of the most powerful conservative organizations in U.S. politics.
“I was taught from a young age that involvement in the public discourse is a civic duty,” David Koch wrote in a 2012 op-ed in the New York Post. “Each of us has a right — indeed, a responsibility, at times — to make his or her views known to the larger community in order to better form it as a whole. While we may not always get what we want, the exchange of ideas betters the nation in the process.”
While lionized on the right, the Koch brothers have been vilified by Democrats who see them as a dark and conspiratorial force, the embodiment of fat-cat capitalism and the corrupting influence of corporate money in American politics.
The Kochs invested heavily in fighting President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul; they fought to bring conservative voices to college campuses; and they developed a nationwide grassroots network pushing conservative causes and candidates at the state and national levels.
The one exception: President Donald Trump. The Kochs refused to endorse Trump in 2016, warning that his protectionist trade policies, among other priorities, weren’t sufficiently conservative.
David Koch had stepped away from a leadership role in recent years because of declining health, including a decades-long battle with prostate cancer, and his brother became the network’s public face.
In an interview after the 2012 Republican convention, his mind was on his legacy.
“When I pass on,” he told The Weekly Standard, “I want people to say he did a lot of good things, he made a real difference, he saved a lot of lives in cancer research.”
He Koch donated $100 million in 2007 to create a cancer research institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also gave millions to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the M.D. Anderson Cancer in Houston and other institutions.
The Lincoln Center theater that houses the New York City Ballet became the David H. Koch Theater in 2008 after he gave $100 million. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History opened a wing in his name dedicated to the story of human evolution.
He said his philanthropy was fueled by a brush with death during a 1991 collision of two airliners at the Los Angeles airport. Thirty-four people were killed; Koch spent two days in intensive care with smoke inhalation.
“I felt that the good Lord was sitting on my shoulder and that he helped save my life because he wanted me to do good works and become a good citizen,” he told Barbara Walters in 2014.
Charles and David Koch, each with an estimated net worth of $50.5 billion, were tied for 11th place in 2019 on the Forbes 500 list of the nation’s richest men.
Koch Industries, co-founded by their father, Fred, in 1940, is a Wichita, Kansas-based conglomerate with vast holdings in oil refineries, paper mills, fertilizer plants, cattle ranches and other ventures. It is the company behind Stainmaster carpeting, Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups.
It has drawn fire for years from environmental advocates and researchers. Koch Industries in 2000 paid $35 million — then the largest civil fine ever levied under the federal Clean Water Act — to settle lawsuits over oil pipeline leaks into lakes and streams in six states.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute ranks Koch Industries one of the top 25 polluters in the U.S.
David Koch, who held degrees from MIT, served on Koch Industries’ board and was also CEO of a Koch chemical subsidiary. He retired from the company as executive vice president in 2018.
Two other Koch brothers, Frederick and Bill Koch, came out on the losing end of a power struggle for control of the company’s board. They sold their stake in Koch Industries in 1983, later unsuccessfully claiming in a lawsuit that they were cheated out of more than $1 billion. David and Bill Koch were twins.
David Koch is survived by his wife, Julia Flesher, and their three children.
On Friday, Charles Koch said of his younger brother: “The significance of David’s generosity is best captured in the words of Adam Smith, who wrote, ‘to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature.'”

For Democrats, a shift toward the middle on health care

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Rank-and-file Democrats appear to be shifting to the middle on health care, worried about what’s politically achievable on their party’s top 2020 issue.
While “Medicare for All” remains hugely popular, the majority say they’d prefer building on “Obamacare” to expand coverage instead of a new government program that replaces America’s mix of private and public insurance.
Highlighted by a recent national poll, the shifting views are echoed in interviews with voters and the evolving positions of Democratic presidential candidates . Some have backed away from the government-run plan championed by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts that for months had seemed to be gaining momentum.
It could mean trouble for Sanders and his supporters, signaling a limit to how far Democratic voters are willing to move to the left amid doubts that Americans would back such dramatic changes to their health care.
“We hear Medicare for All, but I’m not absolutely certain what that means and what that would then mean for me,” said Democrat Terrie Dietrich, who lives near Las Vegas. “Does it mean that private insurance is gone forever?”
Dietrich, 74, has Medicare and supplements that with private insurance, an arrangement she said she’s pretty comfortable with.
She thinks it’s important that everyone has health care, not just those who can afford it. She said she would support Medicare for All if it was the only way to achieve that.
But “I don’t think we can ever get it passed,” Dietrich added.
Erin Cross, her 54-year-old daughter and also a Democrat, said she’s uncomfortable with switching to a system in which a government plan is the only choice. She said Democrats won’t be able to appeal to Republicans unless they strike a middle ground and allow people to keep their private insurance.
“We’ve got to get some of these other people, these Republican voters, to come on over just to get rid of Trump,” she said.
Democratic presidential candidates also have expressed skepticism.
California Sen. Kamala Harris’ new plan would preserve a role for private insurance. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is open to step-by-step approaches. Meanwhile, health care moderates including former Vice President Joe Biden have been blunt in criticizing the government-run system envisioned by Sanders.
In Nevada, the early voting swing state that tests presidential candidates’ appeal to labor and a diverse population, moderate Democrats have won statewide by focusing on health care affordability and preserving protections from President Barack Obama’s law.
Nationwide, 55% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic said in a poll last month they’d prefer building on Obama’s Affordable Care Act instead of replacing it with Medicare for All. The survey by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found 39% would prefer Medicare for All. Majorities of liberals and moderates concurred.
On a separate question, Democratic support for Medicare for All was a robust 72% in July, but that was down from 80% in April, a drop Kaiser says is statistically significant but not necessarily a definitive downward trend.
That said, Kaiser pollster Liz Hamel said it wouldn’t be surprising if it turned into one. On big health care ideas, she said, “as the public starts seeing arguments for and against, we often see movement.”
The Kaiser survey also found broad backing for the public-option alternative that moderates are touting, a government plan that would compete with but not replace private insurance. Eighty-five percent of Democrats supported that idea, along with 68% of independents. Republicans were opposed, 62% to 36%.
Large increases in federal spending and a significant expansion of government power are often cited as arguments against Medicare for All. However, the main criticism Democrats are hearing from some of their own candidates is that the Sanders plan would force people to give up their private health insurance. Under the Vermont senator’s legislation, it would be unlawful for insurers or employers to offer coverage for benefits provided by the new government plan.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan argued during the last round of Democratic debates that that’s problematic for union members with hard-fought health care plans secured by sacrificing wage increases. However, Sanders has long asserted his plan will allow unions to obtain bigger wage increases by taking health care out of the equation.
In interviews with The Associated Press, union workers in Nevada said they worried about how Medicare for All would affect their coverage.
Chad Neanover, prep cook at the Margaritaville casino-restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip, said he would be reluctant to give up the comprehensive insurance that his union has fought to keep. He has asthma, and his wife is dealing with diabetes. The union’s plan has no monthly premium cost and no deductible.
“I don’t want to give up my health insurance. I’ve personally been involved in the fight to keep it,” said Neanover, 44. “A lot of people have fought to have what we have today.”
Savannah Palmira, a 34-year-old union construction worker in Las Vegas, said she’s open to supporting Medicare for All, but wants to know specifically what it would look like, how the country would transition and how it would affect her plan.
“That’s one of the biggest things that I love about being in the union, is our quality health care,” Palmira said.
Medicare for All backers say their plan has been unfairly portrayed.
“The shift in polling on Medicare for All is a direct result of mischaracterizations by opponents,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a Sanders campaign co-chair.
People are most interested in keeping their own doctors, Khanna added, and Medicare for All would not interfere with that.
Longtime watchers of America’s health care debate see new energy among Democrats, along with a familiar pattern.
“The long-standing history of health reform is that people want to hang on to what they have,” said Georgetown University public policy professor Judith Feder, who was a health policy adviser in the Clinton administration.
Nonetheless, she noted a common interest among Democrats: “People want affordable, reliable, stable coverage.”
Alonso-Zaldivar reported from Washington.

Survivors retell the story of Quake Lake 60 years later

By MICHAEL WRIGHT Bozeman Daily Chronicle
EARTHQUAKE LAKE, Mont. (AP) — Anita Painter Thon remembers the dinner she ate the night everything changed. She and her twin sister — they’d just turned 12 — wanted hot dogs, but they couldn’t convince their parents. Instead, it was steak and potatoes, cooked over a campfire in a campground next to the Madison River.
The family had driven up from Ogden, Utah, to spend part of summer 1959 in Yellowstone. After some time in the park, they decided to camp in the Madison Canyon, downstream of Hebgen Lake. Her father had heard the fishing was good.
After dinner — which Thon said was wonderful, despite any discontent at the time — they cleaned up camp. A ranger had warned them of bears. Then they got into their camp trailer and went to bed.
Just before midnight, the trailer started shaking. Thon woke up. She initially thought it was their dog, Princess, but she also heard a loud roar, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported .
“It sounded like a train coming toward our trailer,” she said.
Bonnie Schreiber and her parents woke up, too. They were in a different trailer in the same campground, called Rock Creek. Schreiber was 7. Her father thought the noise might be a bear messing with their cooler, so he jumped out with a hammer, ready for a fight.
He didn’t see a bear. But the trailer was a few feet off the ground.
In a spot on a ridge there was Tootie Greene, a 30-year-old nurse from Billings. She was there with her husband and 9-year-old son, a few days from the end of their vacation. She said the ground was rolling like ocean waves. The next thing she saw was water.
“I drew a blank after that for a while,” Greene said.
An earthquake had disrupted the full-moon night of Aug. 17, 1959, turning it chaotic and terrifying. The quake had a magnitude of 7.3, and it remains the largest to hit the region. Rocks, trees and earth shook loose at the western end of the canyon, forming a massive landslide. The slide went three-quarters of a mile north and spread a mile east to west, burying 19 people. Nine more died because of the quake, including Schreiber’s grandmother and Thon’s mother.
The landslide also stopped the river. The water backed up and spread out, turning a swath of canyon into an ominous lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ultimately cut a spillway.
Sixty years later, the lake is still here, a symbol of force, havoc and tragedy, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
The road between West Yellowstone and the young lake takes people through the highlights. There’s Refuge Point, a spot above Hebgen Dam where survivors like Thon, Schreiber and Greene congregated that night until help arrived the next day.
Downhill is the new Beaver Creek Campground. The old one is underwater.
West of there, it follows the shore of the 60-year-old lake, dead trees poking through the surface. Then the slide itself comes into view, a big barren patch on the otherwise forested canyon wall.
The Earthquake Lake Visitor Center is on the other side of the road. Built in 1967, it’s the domain of Joanne Girvin, who runs the center for the Forest Service. She has worked here since 1991. She has told and retold the story of the quake, and she knows it well.
“There’s two sides to the story,” she said, sitting on a bench outside the center earlier this month. “It’s the human story, and it’s the geologic story.”
The geologic story is one of power — how the quake is still the largest recorded in the Rocky Mountain states, how the Hebgen Dam didn’t break, how the slide carried 80 million tons of rock. There are big boulders above the center that show how high the slide climbed, including one that’s dedicated to the people who died here.
The human story is one of terror — buried campsites, falling boulders, trees pinning down people and cars. The water backing up and rising. Chunks of highway disappearing, leaving people with no way out.
“You had 250 people who were trapped between the dam and this massive landslide,” Girvin said.
After waking up to the roar and the shaking, Thon remembers falling into the river with her twin sister. They were crying, wondering what had just happened. She saw a woman in a white robe float by on top of something, smoking a cigarette.
“She goes, ‘Stop crying, you’re going to be OK,'” Thon said.
When they got out of the water, the air smelled of dirt and gasoline. They couldn’t find their parents or older sister. They checked the trailer, which was in the water, but had no luck.
Then they heard their sister call to them from above. She’d found their mother, whose arm was injured badly. She’d also found a nurse who’d been camping there — Tootie Greene.
“That was the first one I started taking care of,” Greene said.
Greene is from Billings. Fallen trees blocked their station wagon from moving, so she, her husband and their son hurried to higher ground.
Soon, she became the emergency medical care for more than a dozen people. The injuries varied.
“There were deep body wounds, to the leg or the back and the chest and the arm,” Greene said. “One guy almost lost his thumb. Another guy lost an ear.”
She cared for them well into the next day, until a helicopter carried some people away and a road was cut to West Yellowstone.
That’s how Schreiber got out. She’d been cut badly on the right side of her head. She was later told the back of her eyeball was visible.
In West Yellowstone, she was put on a plane to Bozeman, where she went to the hospital. Everything healed fine. She said this week she thinks she sees better out of her right eye.
But her grandmother wasn’t fine. She died in the hospital. Schreiber remembers seeing her all cut up immediately after the quake, and that her mother was hauling both of them toward help.
“And that’s the last time I seen my grandma,” she said.
Thon’s mother died in Bozeman, too. Her arm was the main injury, but Thon said it got a nasty infection that never healed. Thon and her sisters were at their aunt’s house back in Utah when they got the bad news a few days after the quake.
She still misses her.
“She was just a wonderful mom. She would have made the best grandmother,” Thon said. “She was like the glue that held us together.”
The earthquake lasted about 20 seconds, according to Girvin. Aftershocks came the next day, some pretty strong, and minor quakes continued long after.
“It shook for a good month after the quake,” Girvin said.
People moved on. But tragedy always lingers.
Schreiber missed her grandmother. She remembers sneaking out of the camper early in the morning to go fishing with her. The quake took that from her.
It also left some lasting fear inside her, at least according to her mother.
“Mom said whenever the wind would blow or rattle a window, I’d start crying and screaming and stuff,” Schreiber said. “I don’t remember any of that.”
She lives in Checkerboard now, with a blue heeler. She has earthquake insurance and she avoids parking near boulders.
Greene, who turns 91 next month, said she wasn’t too bothered by it in the years that followed, but her husband and son were. She said her son didn’t go back to the area until adulthood, and her husband never wanted to talk about it. It makes sense to her — they’re victims of the quake, too.
But that’s not really how it’s been for her, other than some lost sleep.
“I deal with things as they come,” Greene said. “Of course, I spent lots of nights that my brain doesn’t turn off … just reliving what happened that I remembered.”
Thon’s family was never the same. Her father recovered and returned to Ogden, but he was depressed. He ran a gas station, and Thon said there were times he’d thought of blowing it up.
“It was just really bad,” Thon said.
Things eventually improved. He remarried during her senior year of high school, found some happiness. She and her siblings — the two sisters and a brother who wasn’t at the quake — made lives of their own.
She’s been married 49 years now and has a family. Still lives in Utah. She’s written a few books about the earthquake in the past decade, telling her story and the story of those who died. Writing about the experience was something she’d always wanted to do.
But she didn’t revisit the site of the earthquake until 36 years later.
In 1995, her son got engaged and the family took a trip to Yellowstone. They decided to swing through the canyon, and she remembers sitting in the car as it rounded a corner and the lake came into view. It was the first time she’d seen it in daylight.
“I couldn’t even talk,” she said. “It was paralyzing.”
They stopped at a roadside sign that described the “night of terror.” She’d been trying to keep it together. But it couldn’t last.
“I looked at that sign and I looked at the slide and I just started crying,” she said.
Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle,

Flooded Mississippi a threat as hurricane season heats up

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The river that drains much of the flood-soaked United States is still running higher than normal, menacing New Orleans in multiple ways just as the hurricane season intensifies.
For months now, a massive volume of water has been pushing against the levees keeping a city mostly below sea level from being inundated. The Mississippi River ran past New Orleans at more than 11 feet (3.4 meters) above sea level for more than 200 days, dropping below that height only Monday.
“The big threat is water getting through or underneath,” said Nicholas Pinter, an expert on river dynamics and flood risks who’s studied levee breaches across the nation. “The longer the duration, the greater the threat.”
Locals walked up levees from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to see the river for themselves as Tropical Storm Barry briefly menaced Louisiana last month, but the real damage runs underneath, experts say: All that rushing floodwater can scour levees along their foundations, causing damage in places that can’t easily be seen.
“That ultimately could undermine the levee as well and cause a breach or a failure,” said Cassandra Rutherford, assistant professor of geotechnical engineering at Iowa State University.
The federal agency that maintains the levees is aware of the risks. But Ricky Boyett, spokesman for the New Orleans office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the corps is confident that South Louisiana river levees are in great condition, with improvements made since 2011.
“If there’s a silver lining going into hurricane season with the river this high for this long, we’re entering the hurricane season having done 200 inspections of the levee since February,” Boyett said.
Inspectors were looking for parked barges, stuck debris or other potential trouble, such as tire ruts or damage from feral hogs on grassy surfaces. They also looked for water seeping through, and for sand boils — spots where water tunneling below a levee seems to bubble out of the ground.
Concrete mats armor underwater areas likely to be eaten away by the river’s current, Boyett said. Sand boils get ringed with sandbags until the water pressure on both sides equalizes, stopping the flow. And because some permanent repairs can’t be made during high water, dangerous seepage gets stopgap coverage: About 63,000 large sandbags have been used since March on one 300-foot-long (91.5-meter-long) seepage area upriver of Baton Rouge, he said.
Even so, experts who study flowing water say there’s a risk the river could rise above the tops of some levees in the New Orleans area, if a hurricane pushes enough storm surge up the swollen river. The city’s levees held the river back in the great flood of 1927 and haven’t been topped since then, Boyett said.
A Category 4 hurricane striking the Louisiana coastline can produce a 20-foot (6.1-meter) storm surge , the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. However, that surge’s size at New Orleans, more than 100 winding river miles up from the coast, would be reduced by the Big Muddy’s push seaward.
The levees range in height from 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters). While river levels are finally falling, the National Weather Service projects the Mississippi will remain above average at New Orleans as hurricane season heats up.
“We really have a heightened concern this year,” said Scott Hagen, of Louisiana State University’s Center for Coastal Resiliency.
For most of the past three decades, the Mississippi has run about 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) high in mid-August at New Orleans’ Carrollton gauge. The last time it was this high was 11.4 feet (3.5 meters) in August 2015, a year when no significant tropical weather reached Louisiana’s coast. It was 12.2 feet in 1993, another year Louisiana’s coast escaped harm.
When Katrina formed as a tropical storm in the Bahamas on Aug. 24, 2005, the river stage in New Orleans was just 2.44 feet (0.74 meters) above sea level. It rose to 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) the day before Katrina devastated the city in 2005.
Katrina knocked out an automatic station that would have measured peak surge at the river’s mouth, but an analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency indicates the surge reached nearly 28 feet at Pass Christian, Mississippi. Surge pushed the Mississippi River up to 11.6 feet (3.5 meters) at New Orleans — not a threatening height with the river low. But surge from the brackish lakes to the city’s north and east reached 19 feet, overtopping or breaching those levees and flooding 80 percent of the city with water as much as 20 feet deep in places.
“I would assume major problems on the river if we had a high river with a Katrina event,” said Jeffrey Graschel, with the National Weather Service’s Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center.
The vast majority of the $14.6 billion spent on flood controls as a result of Katrina went not to the river levees, but to shore up and block areas that failed.
The possibility of a punishing storm surge meeting a swollen Mississippi in New Orleans is a different threat, one that could become more common as the planet warms, spawning longer-lasting floods and earlier hurricanes.
Barry was the first hurricane to menace when the river was as high as it was in July, Boyett said.
In 1929, the year construction started on the spillway that caps the river’s height at New Orleans, the Mississippi topped at 19.99 feet (6.1 meters) in June, Boyett said. But that year saw only five Atlantic tropical systems, with two hurricanes in the Gulf, National Hurricane Center data show — and both stayed away from Louisiana. NOAA forecasters now expect 10 to 17 named storms this year, including five to nine hurricanes.
Opening spillways upriver from New Orleans can’t fix this, because they were designed to keep water flowing at a manageable rate, not to quickly drop river levels, which could cause mudslides when levees don’t dry out as fast as the water falls, Boyett said.
The changing climate means this problem could become an annual threat.
“Flooding is never a one-time thing. We’re just waiting for the next one,” said Pinter, an associate director of the University of California Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. “Given model predictions for climate change and rising sea levels and suggestions that hurricanes are maybe getting more intense, it’s something we have to keep an eye on.”
Martin reported from Atlanta.

Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users’ audio clips

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook has paid contractors to transcribe audio clips from users of its Messenger service, raising privacy concerns for a company with a history of privacy lapses.
The practice was, until recently, common in the tech industry. Companies say the practice helps improve their services. But users aren’t typically aware that humans and not just computers are reviewing audio.
Transcriptions done by humans raise bigger concerns because of the potential of rogue employees or contractors leaking details. The practice at Google emerged after some of its Dutch language audio snippets were leaked. More than 1,000 recordings were obtained by Belgian broadcaster VRT NWS, which noted that some contained sensitive personal conversations — as well as information that identified the person speaking.
Facebook said audio snippets reviewed by contractors were masked so as not to reveal anyone’s identity. It said it stopped the practice a week ago. The development was reported earlier by Bloomberg.
Google said it suspended doing this worldwide while it investigates the leaks. Amazon said it still uses humans, but users can decline, or opt out, of the human transcriptions. Published reports say Apple also has used humans, but has stopped.
Irish data-protection regulators say they’re seeking more details from Facebook to assess compliance with European data regulations.
Facebook is already under scrutiny for a variety of other ways it has misused user data. It agreed to a $5 billion fine to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission probe of its privacy practices.
Lerman reported from San Francisco.

Army veteran pleads not guilty in anthem assault on teen

SUPERIOR, Mont. (AP) — An Army veteran pleaded not guilty to assaulting a 13-year-old boy who the suspect said refused to remove his hat during the national anthem at a rodeo in Montana.
Attorney Lance Jasper has told the Missoulian that defendant Curt Brockway, a 39-year-old veteran with a traumatic brain injury from an automobile crash, believed he was doing what President Donald Trump wanted him to do.
Brockway told investigators the boy cursed at him when he asked him to remove his hat.
Witnesses have said Brockway picked the boy up by his neck and slammed him to the ground. Court records say the boy suffered a skull fracture.
Brockway, of Superior, Montana, entered his plea Wednesday in the Aug. 3 encounter.
He remains free without bond. His next hearing is Oct. 23.

The typically calm bond market is alarmed about the economy

By STAN CHOE AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Compared to the free-swinging and sometimes emotional stock market, the bond market is supposed to be the sober and measured one.
It’s getting more alarmed.
Bonds sounded their loudest warning bell yet of recession on Wednesday, when the yield on the 10-year Treasury briefly fell below the two-year yield. Such a thing is rare: Investors usually demand more in interest for tying up their money in longer-term debt. When yields get “inverted,” market watchers say a recession may be a year or two away.
An inverted yield curve has historically been a reliable, though not perfect, predictor of recession. Each of the last five recessions was preceded by the two- and 10-year Treasury yields inverting, according to Raymond James, taking an average of about 22 months for recession to hit. The last inversion of this part of the yield curve began in December 2005, two years before the Great Recession tore through the global economy.
This latest inversion is the result of a steep slide in long-term yields as worries mount that President Donald Trump’s trade war may derail the economy. Discouraging economic data from Germany and China, two of the world’s largest economies, also unnerved investors on Wednesday.
The temporary flip in yields sent stocks sliding, and the S&P 500 was down as much as 2.7% in the afternoon. The bond market has been much more pessimistic about the health of the economy in recent months than the stock market, which set a record high just last month.
If all the talk about yield curves sounds familiar, it should. Other parts of the curve have already inverted, beginning late last year. But each time, some market watchers cautioned not to make too much of it.
In December, for example, the yield on the five-year Treasury dropped below the two- and three-year Treasury yields. It wasn’t a big deal at the time because academics and economists pay much more attention to the relationship between three-month yields and 10-year yields.
When the three-month yield rose above the 10-year yield earlier this year, it drew more attention. But traders said the inversion would need to last a while to confirm the warning signal, and they pointed out that the widely followed gap between the two-year yield and the 10-year yield was still positive.
Now, that tripwire has been crossed too, and the three-month Treasury yield remains above the 10-year yield.
One of the biggest concerns is that all the uncertainty around the U.S.-China trade war — where the world’s hopes of a resolution can rise and fall with a single tweet or statement — may cause businesses and shoppers to wait things out and rein in their spending. Such a pullback could hurt corporate profits and start a vicious cycle where companies cut back on hiring, leading to further cutbacks in spending and more damage for the economy.
The concerns have sent the 30-year Treasury yield sinking, and it touched a record low Wednesday. But it remains above shorter-term yields, which means not all of the yield curve is inverted and offers a bit of solace. The 30-year yield sat at 2.04% Wednesday afternoon, above the 1.58% 10-year yield and the 1.56% two-year yield.
Some market watchers also say the yield curve may be less reliable an indicator this time because of technical factors that are distorting yields. Bonds in Europe and elsewhere have even lower yields than U.S. bonds and are negative in many cases. That’s sending buyers from abroad into the U.S. bond market, putting extra pressure downward on U.S. yields.
The Federal Reserve is also holding more than $2 trillion in Treasury securities, which it amassed to pull the economy out of the 2008 financial crisis and keep longer-term interest rates low.
Broader measures of the U.S. economy, meanwhile, are not pointing to an imminent downturn. The job market, consumer spending and consumer confidence all remain solid to strong.
“The only thing that’s flashing red or yellow right now is the yield curve,” said Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo.
Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein, said he expects growth to slow to an annual rate of about 1.5% in the second half of this year, down from a 2.5% pace in the first six months, but to avoid a recession.
Some investors believe an inverted yield curve is just a reflection of market worries that the economy is weakening and that the Federal Reserve needs to cut short-term interest rates. Others, though, say an inverted curve can help cause a recession itself by making lending less profitable for banks and cutting off growth opportunities for companies.
“For this reason, investors must not dismiss the current behavior in the fixed income market,” Natixis economist Joseph LaVorgna wrote in a research note.
Either way, some market watchers cautioned investors not to take the inversion as a panic signal and sell everything.
If someone’s first reaction to falling stock prices is to sell their stocks, they likely had too much of their portfolio in stocks to begin with. Drops like this are typical for stocks, and they’re the price investors have had to pay for better long-term returns than bonds historically.
“A lot of investors may look at this morning’s inversion and consider it an exit sign,” Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at ETrade Financial.
“Regardless of where the yield curve and market may take us, it’s critical for investors to stay the course and focus on maintaining a diversified portfolio aligned to their long-term goals.”
AP Economics Writers Bani Sapra and Christopher Rugaber contributed to this report.