Pressure point: Irving, Cavs face crucial Game 3 in finals

TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — One day before his first NBA Finals game at home, Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving spent time after practice trying out some one-on-one moves against assistant coach James Posey.

That’s not what Cleveland needed him to work on.

With the Cavs already in a 2-0 hole they can’t allow to get deeper, Irving must play like an All-Star, if not a superstar, for Cleveland to win Game 3 on Wednesday night over the Golden State Warriors, attempting to cap an historic season with a second straight title.

Irving has waited a year, actually a lifetime, for this moment. After breaking his kneecap in Game 1 of last year’s finals and enduring months of grueling rehab, the 24-year-old, often criticized for being too selfish on the court, has a chance at personal redemption and to help the Cavs, who could be missing concussed forward Kevin Love in Game 3.

The pressure’s on.

Irving, though, isn’t feeling any.

“Just be myself,” he said when asked how he needs to improve in Game 3. “Go out there and be aggressive.”

Irving was in attack mode in the opener, scoring 26 points and making 11 free throws as he was able to get to the rim almost at will. It wasn’t nearly as easy in Game 2 — for Irving or the Cavs — as he was held to 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting and the Warriors rolled to a 110-77 win.

But in addition to clanking shots, Irving also fell back into a bad habit of hanging onto the ball too long, dribbling and failing to get his teammates involved. He had just one assist in 33 minutes and there were several possessions when Irving seemed to forget there were four other guys in Cleveland jerseys on the floor.

Coach Tyronn Lue, who is feeling some heat for the first time since taking over for David Blatt in January, said he has spoken to Irving about attacking the basket earlier and not letting the 24-second shot tick down to single digits, sending the Cavs into a panic to avoid a violation.

The Cavs are at their best when Irving — and the ball — are moving.

“He’s one of the players that we have on our team that can go one-on-one, because they’re switching one through five,” Lue said, referring to the Warriors’ defensive plan when guarding pick-and-rolls. “But he has to make sharp, quick moves. He understands that, but we need Kyrie to be aggressive. He’s a scorer. He’s a special player. He has the best handle in the NBA, so he’s able to play iso (isolation) basketball. But he’s got to make quick decisions, and he understands that.”

Irving made major strides in his second season while playing with LeBron James, but there are still moments when the two stars are in different galaxies. The Cavs must get Irving and James back in sync quickly or the Warriors will be spraying champagne in Cleveland once again.

As for Lue, a torrid run through the postseason has slowed to a crawl.

Cleveland opened the playoffs with 10 straight wins before needing six games to oust Toronto and win its second consecutive Eastern Conference title. That was expected, though, and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and general manager David Griffin are demanding more, which is why Blatt was fired in January despite a 30-11 record and trip to the finals as a first-year coach in 2015.

Lue’s under the gun to deliver a championship or there could be more changes. The 38-year-old Lue didn’t sign a contract when he agreed to take over for Blatt, a decision that either shows his confidence, respect for Blatt or a desire to look elsewhere once the season ends.

Whatever the case, Lue, like his starting point guard, needs to get going or he could be embarrassed in the finals again.

On June 6, 2001, Lue was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers when he was on the wrong end of a nasty move by Philadelphia guard Allen Iverson in Game 1 of the finals. Despite solid defense by Lue, Iverson shook him with his patented, ankle-breaking crossover dribble, drained a jumper and then stepped over him as Lue sat on the floor.

Lue recovered as did the Lakers, who went on to win the title.

He and the Cavs need to get back on their feet in Game 3.

“I have to do a better job,” he said. “Our players have to do a better job. We have to play better, and they understand that and we will.”

 

Down 2-0, Cavs may be without Love in Game 3 of NBA Finals

TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — Already underdogs, the Cavaliers may also be undermanned for Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

They remain undaunted.

The Cavs practiced Tuesday without starting forward Kevin Love, who is following the league’s concussion protocol after being struck in the back of the head by Golden State’s Harrison Barnes during Sunday night’s Game 2 blowout loss.

Love stayed in the locker room while his teammates practiced on the floor at Quicken Loans Arena, where they are 7-0 in this postseason and will have 20,000 screaming fans on their side for the next two games. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Love is feeling better, but his status for Game 3 — and the remainder of the series — hinges on him passing several physical tests and getting cleared to play.

Love might be uncertain. LeBron James, on the other hand, is positive the Cavs can’t let anything become a distraction.

“Next man up,” James said. “We’re down 0-2, and we can’t afford to look and say: ‘Wow, Kev’s not playing. What are we going to do?’ It’s next man up because it’s a must-win for us. So obviously his health is very important, but in the situation we’re in now, we’ve got to stay confident.”

If Love can’t play, Lue will have to replace 16.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. A potential move is bringing back Russian center Timofey Mozgov, who was disappointing in the regular season and has been exiled to the bench. The 7-foot-1 Mozgov was Cleveland’s second-leading scorer in last year’s finals against the Warriors, who switched to a smaller lineup to drive him off the floor.

One thing that Lue and his staff will change is the approach when it comes to physicality: Cleveland had success when it got aggressive with the Warriors in last year’s finals, so it’s a reasonable assumption that the Cavs will try it again Wednesday.

Lue considered other lineup changes in hopes of slowing the Warriors, who won the first two games by a combined 48 points despite sub-standard performances by shooting stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, whose splashes have been mere sprinkles so far.

“We’ve thought about it, we’ve talked about it, but I can’t let you know what we’re planning on doing,” Lue said with a laugh.

Lue’s first postseason as a head coach has been relatively uneventful. He’s made savvy moves, kept his players focused despite a few lengthy breaks between series and handled the daily circus surrounding any team James plays on with a steadying hand.

But despite his team’s 33-point loss in Game 2, Lue has faith the Cavs will respond.

“We’ve just got to execute,” he said. “When we get chances on the break to convert, we’ve got to convert. When we get open shots, we’ve got to take advantage of open shots. We just can’t turn the basketball over like we’ve been doing. If they turn the ball over 20 times, which is good, in our home building, we should be fine to get out and run and play with pace.

“We’re not discouraged. They won two games and the series is not over until you win four.”

For now, the Cavs’ only objective is to win one.

Until the finals, they rampaged through this postseason, sweeping series against Detroit and Atlanta before eliminating Toronto in six games. Unlike last year, when Love was out with a dislocated left shoulder and Irving was knocked from the finals with a shattered kneecap, James was getting help and didn’t have to carry the Cavs virtually all by himself.

And while James’ statistics through two games are LeBron-like — 21 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists — he had seven turnovers in Game 2, a performance that irked him so much that he got on the first team bus leaving Oracle Arena and immediately began watching it on the team’s ride to its San Francisco hotel.

He dismissed the sentiment offered this week from legendary coach Phil Jackson, who feels the four-time MVP should take over in Michael Jordan fashion.

In his sixth straight finals, James isn’t changing a thing.

“I think for me to go out and be who I am and play as true to the game and as hard as I can and try to lead this team, that’s who I am,” James said. “Not anybody else. I’m not Michael. I’m not (Muhammad) Ali. I’m not nobody else that’s done so many great things for sport. I am who I am, and if I’m able to go out and put together a game like that, it wasn’t because I was possessed.”

 

Some looking to profit from free tickets to Ali services

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Muhammad Ali insisted the tickets for his memorial be free. But some people are looking to turn a profit.

People started arriving outside the KFC Yum! Center late Tuesday in downtown Louisville, ahead of the Wednesday morning ticket distribution. The line stretched around the arena. All 15,000-plus tickets for Ali’s memorial service Friday were claimed within an hour.

Some ticket holders immediately went online offering to sell their tickets.

Others posted online pleas to buy tickets. One wrote that he and his mother were driving in from Chicago for the service for the boxing great and willing to pay $50 for two tickets.

One of the posters offering to sell tickets reached by phone said a friend of his sold tickets to the memorial service. When asked for how much, he hung up.

 

Bench-clearing fray mars Orioles’ 9-1 win over skidding KC

DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer

 

BALTIMORE (AP) — Manny Machado had no intention of taking a 99 mph fastball in the back without retaliating.

So when the inevitable occurred, the Orioles young infielder charged the mound with his fists clenched.

Kansas City right-hander Yordano Ventura hit Machado with a pitch to spark a bench-emptying fray, and Baltimore extended the Royals’ losing streak to a season-high six games with a 9-1 rout Tuesday night.

Mark Trumbo homered and drove in four runs, and the Orioles also got long balls from Ryan Flaherty, Chris Davis and Adam Jones.

But the game’s most striking moment came in the fifth inning, when Ventura (4-4) drilled Machado just under his No. 13 as the two-time All-Star turned away. In the second inning, with Baltimore leading 5-0, the two exchanged words after Ventura twice threw inside pitches.

So before Machado headed to the plate in the fifth, he got a word of warning from manager Buck Showalter.

“I thought he was trying to hit him the at-bat before,” Showalter said. “That’s why I talked to him before he took his last at-bat. I wanted him to be aware of it.”

An instant after the ball hit him, Machado charged the mound. Ventura prepared for the onslaught by slinging aside his cap and glove, but Machado landed a solid punch before the pitcher tackled him.

“I don’t regret anything,” the 23-year-old Machado said. “When somebody’s throwing 99 at you, it’s going to hurt. You can ruin someone’s career. You don’t think in that situation. You just react to it.”

Both dugouts and bullpens emptied before peace was restored. Machado was restrained by teammate Chris Tillman after the initial thrust.

Ventura insisted the errant throw was unintentional and implied that Machado has a reputation as a hot head.

“Everybody knows what kind of player he is,” Ventura said through an interpreter. “One just got away and he came at me, and I have to defend myself at that point.”

Machado and Ventura were ejected with the score 5-1. It is likely both will ultimately receive suspensions.

“I don’t think that should be in order,” Ventura insisted.

Machado said, “You got to deal with the consequences once you cross that line.”

When play resumed, Trumbo greeted reliever Chien-Ming Wang with his major league-leading 20th home run, and Davis followed with a solo shot.

Ubaldo Jimenez (3-6) gave up one run and nine hits over five-plus innings to end a three-game skid.

Baltimore has won six of seven. This was the only victory in that stretch in which the Orioles never trailed.

The Royals stranded 13 and went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position. It’s been a difficult losing streak for the defending World Series champions, and Ventura made that apparent with his actions in the fifth inning.

“There’s a little frustration when things like this happen,” manager Ned Yost acknowledged.

Baltimore opened the bottom of the first with four straight hits and took a 4-0 lead with only one out. The big blow was a two-run double by Trumbo, who scored on a single by Jonathan Schoop. The damage would have been worse if leaping center fielder Lorenzo Cain didn’t reach far over the 7-foot wall to rob Pedro Alvarez of a potential two-run homer.

Flaherty led off the second with his first home run of the season, a drive that traveled an estimated 446 feet before landing on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field wall.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: 3B Cheslor Cuthbert was in the starting lineup after bruising his elbow Monday night on an errant throw by Schoop. … Monday night starter Danny Duffy, drilled in the left calf by a line drive, said Tuesday: “It was a little tender but nothing to write home about.” … OF Alex Gordon (wrist) has started a throwing regimen but there is no timetable for his return.

Orioles: RHP Yovani Gallardo (shoulder tendinitis) allowed three runs and four hits over five innings in his second and perhaps final rehabilitation start. Showalter said Gallardo has lost 11 pounds since going on the DL on April 23.

UP NEXT

Royals: Edinson Volquez (5-5, 4.03 ERA) will attempt to lift Kansas City out of its season-long funk in the series finale Wednesday night.

Orioles: Unbeaten in nine starts since April 14, Tillman (7-1, 3.33 ERA) attempts to complete the three-game sweep for Baltimore.

 

Airstrikes kill 15 as fighting flares in Syria’s Aleppo
ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press

 

BEIRUT (AP) — Airstrikes on rebel-held districts of Syria’s contested city of Aleppo on Wednesday, including one that struck near a hospital, killed 15 civilians and wounded many others, as fighting in the country’s largest city intensified once again, opposition activists said.

The northern city has seen an uptick in violence in the last two days, with government forces pounding rebel-held eastern parts of the city with airstrikes while rebels are shelling western, government-held districts.

The activists said one of Wednesday’s strikes hit near the Bayan hospital in the rebel-held Shaar neighborhood, killing 10 people. Videos uploaded on the internet by activists show massive destruction, fires and thick black smoke billowing from buildings.

Wounded people are seen being loaded into ambulances. A body covered in thick gray dust is lying face down on a street littered with debris.

The Independent Doctors Association, which describes itself as a cross-border Syrian humanitarian organization providing health care to the province and the city of Aleppo, said on its Twitter account that an airstrike hit a children’s hospital it runs, destroying one floor.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition monitoring group, said 10 civilians were killed in Wednesday’s attack, including children. It said the airstrike hit a motorcycle repair shop in a square near the hospital. Five other civilians were killed in strikes that hit nearby districts, bringing the death toll to 15.

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist-run network, and volunteer first responders said the airstrikes resulted in multiple casualties.

Hospitals and medical facilities have been regularly targeted in Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year. Since the start of the conflict in 2011, nearly 740 doctors and staff have been killed in more than 360 attacks on hospitals in Syria, according to Physicians for Human Rights.

Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym, MSF, says at least 100 staff members, patients and caretakers were killed, and at least 130 were wounded, in aerial bombing and shelling attacks on more than 80 MSF-supported and run health structures in 2015 and early 2016.

On April 27, an airstrike widely believed to have been carried out by the Syrian government destroyed the al-Quds hospital in Aleppo, killing a pediatrician and dozens of colleagues, patients and other civilians.

Aleppo, once Syria’s thriving commercial center, has been divided and subject to a war of attrition between government and opposition forces since the summer of 2012.

North of Aleppo, rebels broke an Islamic State siege on their stronghold of Marea, reopening the road linking the town to the Turkish border, activists said. The Observatory said IS withdrew from several villages near Marea, redeploying fighters to the area west of the IS-held town of Manbij, where the extremists are trying to fend off an advance by Kurdish-led and U.S.-backed forces.

 

Ex-CIA agent loses fight against extradition to Italy

BARRY HATTON, Associated Press

 

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A former CIA agent said Wednesday she will be extradited to Italy to serve a prison sentence for her part in the U.S. extraordinary renditions program after Portugal’s Constitutional Court rejected her final appeal.

Sabrina de Sousa told The Associated Press she is waiting to be told when she will be taken to Italy, where she was convicted in absentia and has a four-year sentence to serve.

Since her October arrest in Lisbon on a European arrest warrant, De Sousa has lost her extradition fight at a lower Lisbon court and her appeal of that decision to the Portuguese Supreme Court.

De Sousa was among 26 Americans convicted for the kidnapping of terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003. She insists she wasn’t involved in the abduction.

The Constitutional Court said in a ruling posted on its website late Tuesday that De Sousa’s appeal was rejected.

Under Portuguese legal procedure, the Constitutional Court now sends its decision back to the lower court. That court then informs the police, who set in motion the extradition process in conjunction with Italian authorities.

De Sousa said in an email to the AP that she had “no idea” when she might be sent to Italy.

Her Italian lawyer has previously said he is hopeful of obtaining clemency from Italy’s head of state in the case, which has also implicated Italy’s secret services and proven embarrassing to successive Italian governments. President Sergio Mattarella has granted clemency to other defendants convicted in the case.

De Sousa said she sent Wednesday a letter to Pope Francis, through the Vatican’s embassy in Lisbon, urging him to speak out against the extraordinary renditions used by the CIA after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The pontiff has already condemned the practice, in a 2014 speech.

De Sousa, who has both U.S. and Portuguese citizenship and was working in Italy under diplomatic cover, argues that she was never officially informed of the Italian court conviction and couldn’t use confidential U.S. government information to defend herself.

“I was never notified nor was I allowed to defend myself because of secrecy obligations,” she wrote in the letter to the pope. “The absence of due process and the imposition of various versions of state secrets are obstacles that prevent the many unanswered questions about the premise and justification for Abu Omar’s rendition.”

The rendition program, under which terror suspects were kidnapped and transferred to centers where they were interrogated and tortured, was part of the anti-terrorism strategy of the U.S. administration following the attacks. President Barack Obama ended the program years later.

 

Suicide car bomb attack kills 4 in Turkish town; PKK blamed

SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press

 

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Kurdish rebel suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle outside a police headquarters near Turkey’s border with Syria Wednesday, killing four other people, according to Turkish officials.

An Interior Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, said two civilians and two women police officers were killed, in addition to the bomber.

The attack in the town of Midyat, in Mardin province, came amid a surge in violence in the country and a day after a car bomb hit a police vehicle in Istanbul, killing 11 people during the morning rush hour. It took place as funerals for the Istanbul victims were underway.

The Interior Ministry official said authorities had strong evidence indicating that the outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, had carried out both Tuesday’s attack in Istanbul and the Wednesday bombing in Mardin.

Asked about the attack in Midyat, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the “murderous PKK organization” was behind it. However, Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, later said the prime minister had meant that the PKK had carried out the Istanbul attack, adding that it was too early to say for certain who was responsible for the bombing in Midyat.

News reports said the assailant rammed the vehicle into protective concrete blocks surrounding Midyat’s main police station located on a street lined with cafeterias, shops and businesses. Television images from the scene showed thick smoke rising from the site of the attack, which destroyed the facade of the police headquarters building and blew out windows of nearby buildings. One of the two police women killed in the attack was pregnant, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The private Dogan news agency said the vehicle was laden with a half-ton of explosives.

As with previous terror attacks, authorities on Wednesday imposed a media gag order, barring the broadcast and publication of graphic images from the aftermath of the Midyat attack and the reporting of details of the police investigation.

Meanwhile, three journalists who travelled to Midyat to cover the bombing, were attacked by a group of local residents and hospitalized, according to one of the journalists, Mahmut Bozarslan, and media reports.

“We escaped being lynched. We are in hospital. We are well,” Bozarslan tweeted. Bozarslan did not answer calls and the motive of the attack was not immediately clear.

Turkey has been hit by a series of attacks in the past year. PKK rebels have targeted police and military personnel since July, when a fragile peace process between the rebels and the government collapsed. The Islamic State group has also been blamed for a series of deadly bombings in Turkey, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition against IS.

The PKK has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The group is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies.

Anadolu Agency, quoting unnamed security forces, said Turkish warplanes carried out air strikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq and in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeastern province of Diyarbakir on Wednesday. Turkish planes have been regularly conducting cross-border aerial operations against the PKK since last summer.

The agency also said that 22 PKK militants were killed in previous strikes in northern Iraq on Sunday.

An estimated 500 Turkish security personnel have been killed while fighting with the Kurdish rebels since July 2015, according to the military, which claims to have killed 4,900 PKK militants in Turkey and northern Iraq.

Mardin, where government forces are battling Kurkish militants, has endured similar attacks in the past months. In May, three people were killed in a car bombing by Kurdish rebels against a gendarmerie station in Midyat. A soldier was killed and six others were wounded in a car bomb attack against their outpost in April.

Last week, the military announced that it had ended a large-scale operation to flush out Kurdish militants from the nearby Syrian border town of Nusaybin, also in Mardin province.

 

Austrian right party challenges presidential vote results

GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press

 

VIENNA (AP) — Austria’s right-wing party on Wednesday announced that it is legally challenging the result of last month’s presidential election due to what it said were a host of irregularities that potentially led to its candidate’s narrow loss.

Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache spoke of a “massive number of irregularities and mistakes” that needed to be investigated.

“We are not poor losers,” he told reporters, declaring that the challenge was launched to secure “the pillars of democracy.”

Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer was leading after polls closed May 22. But final results after a count of absentee ballots put former Green party politician Alexander Van der Bellen ahead by only a little more than 30,000 votes.

The final count showed Van der Bellen with 50.3 percent, compared to 49.7 percent for Hofer.

Strache said that the law was contravened in one way or the other in 97 of a total of 117 electoral districts, including the sorting of absentee ballots before the arrival of electoral commission officials. He said that of the more than 700,000 such ballots, more than 570,000 were affected.

“Hofer could have become president without these irregularities and mistakes,” he said. “You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to get an exceptionally bad gut feeling in the face of such mishaps or strange developments.”

Hofer spoke of an “exorbitantly high” chance that his party’s initiative would be successful, describing the alleged irregularities as a “blatant violation of the law.”

The challenge could result in at least a partial recount if Austria’s Constitutional Court rules in favor of the party. Freedom Party officials said the court was looking at three requests to probe the alleged irregularities — one from Strache, another from the party and a third from an unnamed “voter and citizen.”

The outcome of the challenge has relevance beyond Austria’s borders, with elections viewed Europe-wide as a proxy fight pitting the continent’s political center against its growing populist and Euroskeptic movements.

Van der Bellen’s win was cheered by the continent’s established parties, while Europe’s right hailed Hofer’s strong showing as a major political surge by one of its own.

 

Southeast gets more rain as Tropical Storm Colin heads east

TAMARA LUSH, Associated Press
JASON DEAREN, Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tropical Storm Colin was expected to continue dropping heavy rains over the Southeast on Tuesday after moving across northern Florida, knocking out power and flooding roads.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency as the storm churned its way across the state into southeast Georgia, and The National Hurricane Center said Colin marked the earliest that a third named storm has ever formed in the Atlantic basin.

By 5 a.m. EDT Tuesday, the storm was moving into the Atlantic, away from the Georgia coast.

Scott said in an interview that there were no reports of major damage, but the state will be tracking flooding from the sudden deluge of rain, much of which fell during high tides Monday.

In Georgia, Susie Morris said she awoke Tuesday to no wind and no rain at the Lighthouse Inn Bed & Breakfast on Georgia’s Tybee Island on the Atlantic coast.

“I certainly don’t have any flooding whatsoever, thank goodness,” said Morris, the proprietor of the inn, a restored 1910 home that was once part of the former Fort Screven military outpost created around the time of the Spanish American War in the 1890s.

In Florida, where Colin has poured nearly 10 inches of rain on some cities, Scott cautioned that the state has seen severe flooding in unlikely places after previous storms.

“We’ll just see how well it runs off,” Scott said. “I always remember back to (Tropical Storm) Isaac in 2012, it went west but we had unbelievable flooding in Palm Beach County.”

Parts of Pinellas County, along Florida’s Gulf Coast, have seen 9 inches of rain. Other areas, from Levy to Sarasota counties, were also soaked with 1 to 6 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

Flood warnings were issued in many parts of the Tampa Bay area and Tuesday’s commute was shaping up to be a difficult one with roads underwater and in some areas, closed entirely.

Colin’s maximum sustained winds Tuesday morning were near 50 mph (85 kph) with some strengthening forecast after the storm moved into the Atlantic. But National Hurricane Center said Colin was expected to lose its tropical cyclone status by Tuesday night.

The storm disrupted schools and summer programs. Many were dismissed early Monday, and two high school graduations in the Tampa Bay area were postponed due to the storms, with both ceremonies being moved to Wednesday night and Thursday. Winds from Colin also closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa.

At Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge roads were flooded and businesses sent people home early.

The high winds and rain also knocked out power to about 10,000 Floridians heading into Monday evening from the Tampa Bay area to Jacksonville.

Colin produced rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches, and forecasters said up to 8 inches were possible across north Florida, southeastern Georgia and coastal areas of the Carolinas through Tuesday. Tornadoes were also a possibility across parts of the coastal Carolinas on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Not everyone in Florida was hunkering down. About 50 people were in the water with surfboards off Treasure Island to take advantage of the rare 2-3-foot swells breaking in the Gulf’s warm waters.

“It’s like man against nature,” said Derek Wiltison of Atlantic Beach. “Surfers tend to drop what they’re doing — work, relationships, whatever — to go out and catch a wave.”

The National Hurricane Center said Colin marked the earliest that a third named storm has ever formed in the Atlantic basin.

Does the early start to this year’s hurricane season worry Morris?

“Worried, no,” she said. “I do watch the weather report… but no, I’m not worried.”

Report: Fewer school suspensions, lots of absences

JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — New government numbers offer a mixed snapshot of progress for the nation’s schoolchildren — with worrisome figures on how many students miss school, stubborn disparities on discipline, but encouraging strides in cutting the overall number of suspensions.

The Education Department report found 6.5 million students nationwide were chronically absent in the 2013-14 school year. That’s more than one out of every 10 students missing at least three full weeks of school. It’s the first time the department has collected student absenteeism data.

On a positive note, the survey found a significant drop in school suspensions for K-12 students, down nearly 20 percent from the previous reporting period. But, the report also suggests sharp disparities between how black and white students are disciplined in school as well as the types of advanced coursework offered in high school to black and Latino children.

“A systemic failure to educate some groups of children as well as others tears at the moral fabric of the nation,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr., said in a phone call with reporters. “What sets the U.S. apart from any other country is the idea that opportunity is universal. These data show that we still fall far short of that ideal.”

Here’s a look at the numbers released Tuesday from a biannual survey of all public schools and districts in the country.

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CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM

“One of the very worrying data points is that 13 percent of all students are chronically absent,” King said in an interview with The AP. “Even the best teacher can’t be successful with a student who’s not in school.”

The rates were higher for high school students. More than 3 million were chronically absent — nearly one in five high school students.

The department defines chronically absent as missing 15 or more days during the school year, a pattern that increases a student’s chances of falling behind and dropping out of school.

Black and Latino high school students had about the same rate of absenteeism, 22 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Rates for white students were not provided in the initial release of numbers from the department’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

The Obama administration began a program last fall, called Every Student, Every Day, It partners with states and local groups in 30 communities around the country to identify mentors to help chronically absent students get back on track.

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SCHOOL DISCIPLINE-THE GOOD NEWS

Across the country, 2.8 million K-12 students received one or more out-of-school suspensions. That’s a nearly 20 percent drop from the number reported two years ago.

“A 20 percent reduction, overall, in suspensions is breathtaking,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. That’s a “tremendous testament to our educators’ commitment to making sure the students are in school and can learn.”

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SCHOOL DISCIPLINE-THE BAD NEWS

Black preschool children are 3.6 times as likely to get one or more out-of-school suspensions as their white counterparts, the report said. Black children represent 19 percent of preschoolers, yet they account for 47 percent of pre-school kids getting one or more suspensions. The comparison to white students: they make up 41 percent of preschoolers, but represent only 28 percent of pre-school children receiving one or more suspensions.

“These disparities beg for more districts to follow the lead of places like Baltimore and Chicago, which are dramatically limiting the use of suspensions in early grades,” Lhamon said.

The report also found that 1.6 million students attend a school with a sworn law enforcement officer, but not a school counselor.

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COLLEGE-READY COURSEWORK

Nationwide, almost half of high schools offered classes in calculus, and more than three-quarters offered Algebra II. But black and Latino students didn’t have the same access to high-level math and science as other students.

According to the report, 33 percent of high schools with substantial black and Latino enrollment offered calculus. That compares to 56 percent of high schools with low numbers black and Latino children that offered calculus. Similar gaps were seen for physics, chemistry and Algebra II.

Inequities were seen in Advanced Placement courses, too. While black and Latino students made up 38 percent of students in schools that offer AP courses, only 29 percent of them were enrolled in at least one AP course.