Friday morning news – September 18, 2020

High water rescues ongoing as Ala., Fla. brace for more flooding » Rescuers on the Gulf Coast used high-water vehicles Thursday to reach people cut off by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally. 

At least one person died in Alabama, where Governor Kay Ivey told reporters…

IVEY: Sally was a record-breaking rain and flooding event. And as the water continues to recede, which may take a few days, we will see a more accurate report of the full devastation. 

Across southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, homeowners and businesses began cleaning up, and officials inspected bridges and highways for safety.

Sally’s remnants continued to push deep inland with heavy downpours, threatening flooding across the South—from Alabama all the way to Virginia.

And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned Thursday that means the flood risk has not passed. 

DESANTIS: All that water ends up coming down in the different streams, rivers, and tributaries. So all these bodies of water in northwest Florida, you’re probably going to see them rise and crest, and you could see even more flooding over the next couple of days. 

At least eight waterways in Alabama and the Panhandle were expected to hit major flood stage by the weekend. Forecasters warned that some could break records, submerge bridges, and swamp homes.

Judge blocks USPS changes blamed for slowing mail » A federal judge on Thursday blocked Postal Service changes blamed for slowing down mail delivery. 

Fourteen states sued to halt measures like the so-called “leave behind” policy, where mail trucks have been leaving facilities on time regardless of whether there is more mail to load. 

The ruling came as President Trump renewed his attack on expanded mail-in balloting.

TRUMP: The biggest problem we have right now are the ballots, millions of ballots going out. That’s the biggest problem. 

In some states, millions of ballots will go out to voters who didn’t request mail-in ballots. Trump has predicted that will result in increased voter fraud. 

In his ruling Thursday, District Court Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington noted Trump’s attacks on expanded mail-in balloting. And he called the changes—quote—“a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” before the November election.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has strongly denied that accusation. 

Last month, he announced he was pausing many of the cost-cutting changes until after the election. And he said he would approve new measures to help ensure on-time delivery of election mail.

But the 14 states that filed suit said some of the changes remained in place and asked the court to block them.

Jobless claims dip slightly » The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped slightly last week. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Department reported Thursday that 860,000 Americans filed jobless claims last week. That was a drop of 33,000 from the week before. 

Overall, 12.6 million are collecting traditional unemployment benefits, compared with just 1.7 million a year ago.

Until the pandemic, weekly U.S. jobless aid applications had never exceeded 700,000. That has now happened for 26 consecutive weeks. 

But the economy and job market have recovered somewhat from the initial shock. Employers added 10.6 million jobs from May through August—that’s roughly half of the jobs lost in March and April.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Showdown set over Iran sanctions » The Trump administration is set to announce tomorrow that all UN sanctions on Iran eased under the 2015 nuclear deal are back in force. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained that the nuclear agreement included a provision…

POMPEO: Where under U.N. Security Council provision 2231, any of the nations identified there had the right to say we want the sanctions that were in place prior to that moment to snap back, and that’s what we’ll do. 

But the other members of the U.N. Security Council, including U.S. allies, disagree and have vowed to ignore the step. They say the United States can’t invoke a provision of that deal after withdrawing from it in 2018. 

That sets the stage for confrontations as the world body prepares for a coronavirus-restricted General Assembly session next week.

The question is how the Trump administration will respond to being ignored. The United States has slapped extensive sanctions on Iran, but also could impose penalties on countries that don’t enforce the U.N. sanctions. 

President Trump plans to address Iran in a speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday. 

More Iranian nationals charged in US with hacking crimes » Meantime, for the third straight day, federal prosecutors have announced criminal cyber hacking charges against Iranian nationals. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Prosecutors announced the most recent charges Thursday in a U.S. District Court in Virginia. They accuse a member of the Revolutionary Guard and two others of stealing the identities of people working in aerospace and satellite technology. 

The hackers used those identities to launch so-called phishing campaigns on the tech workers’ peers to steal sensitive data and intellectual property.

One of the men charged is identified as a leader in the Iranian Dark Coders Team. 

The indictment describes it as “a notorious group of Iranian hackers responsible for numerous computer intrusions worldwide.”

Earlier this week, an Iranian national and a Palestinian national were indicted for allegedly defacing U.S. websites. And on Wednesday, the department announced charges against two other Iranian nationals accused of stealing data in a hacking campaign.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) A postal worker loads a delivery vehicle at the United States Post Office in Cranberry Township, Pa., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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