Thursday morning news – September 17, 2020

Sally slams Gulf Coast, brings catastrophic flooding to south » Hurricane Sally slammed the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama Wednesday with sideways rain, storm surges, and powerful winds.

Sally fooled forecasters once again. After making landfall a day later than expected, it hit land as a Category 2—just after forecasts had predicted a Cat 1 landfall. 

Orange Beach, Alabama Mayor Tony Kennon told reporters… 

KENNON: Twenty inches of rain or more with incoming tide, and it was just all of it coming together, created a catastrophic flooding event for us more than anything else. 

At least one person was killed Wednesday in Orange Beach. 

David Eversole with the National Weather Service said the biggest problem is that the storm crawled ashore, moving at about 2 to 3 miles per hour.

EVERSOLE: Sally is moving so slowly, so it just keeps pounding and pounding and pounding the area with tropical rain and just powerful winds. It’s just a nightmare. 

The storm’s slow progress could bring a record-setting 30 inches of rain in some spots, with heavy downpours expected in parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas later this week.

Rescuers performed numerous high water rescues Wednesday. And more than 150,000 homes and businesses lost electricity. 

Government preps for COVID-19 vaccine rollout » U.S. health agencies plan to offer everyone free immunization against the coronavirus. The government on Wednesday outlined its plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a Senate panel he remains hopeful that we’ll begin rolling out a vaccine by the end of the year…

REDFIELD: But very limited supply and will have to be prioritized. If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter, 2021. 

By then, there could be several different options available. Scientists are testing nine possible vaccines in Phase 3 trials around the world, according to The New York Times

Early phases would focus on healthcare workers, essential employees, and people in vulnerable groups. 

U.N. panel: Maduro regime has committed crimes against humanity » Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro regime has committed crimes against humanity. 

That according to a new report commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

An expert panel found cases of grisly torture, executions, and other crimes carried out by Maduro’s security forces and intelligence agencies.  

Marta Valinas chairs the UN fact-finding mission on Venezuela. 

VALINAS: We have reasonable grounds to believe that high level authorities within these entities, as well as political authorities, including the president and the ministers of interior and of defense were aware of these crimes.

And she said those political authorities “either ordered or otherwise contributed” to crimes that were part of a “widespread and systematic attack” against civilians.

The experts delved into nearly 3,000 cases and looked at more than 5,000 killings.

The panel said those responsible must be held accountable and the global community must ensure such crimes don’t happen again.

Panel’s report blasts Boeing, FAA for crashes, seeks reforms » A House committee issued a scathing report Wednesday criticizing Boeing and government regulators in the wake of two deadly Max jet crashes. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Staff members from the Democrat-controlled Transportation Committee blamed the crashes on what it called a  “horrific culmination” of factors. It cited failed government oversight, design flaws, and a lack of action at Boeing despite knowing about problems.

Almost 350 people died in crashes involving 737 Max jets in 2018 and 2019. 

The committee flagged problems with the Federal Aviation Administration approval process for new jetliners. And committee Chairman Peter DeFazio said lawmakers should pass new legislation to fix it. 

He said the system is—quote—“Obviously inadequate” and “We will be adopting significant reforms.”

Boeing Max jets remain grounded as regulators continue testing revamped flight control software.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Big Ten to restart football » The Big Ten will hit the gridiron this year after all. 

Just a month after voting to postpone the fall season until the spring, the Midwestern athletic conference reversed course. With COVID-19 tests that provide same-day results now available, the Big Ten decided Wednesday on an eight-week football schedule.

It will start Oct. 23 with a championship game on Dec. 19. 

The NCAA must now decide how to rank Big Ten teams, who will have a shorter season than the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 going into the College Football Playoff.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Floodwaters move on the street, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Pensacola, Fla. 

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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