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New Orleans Power Failure Traps Older Residents in Homes

NEW ORLEANS — For five days after Hurricane Ida tore through New Orleans and left the city in darkness, 86-year-old Eddie Gentry sat in his sweltering, eighth-floor apartment, fearing that he was running out of breath.

Mr. Gentry opened his windows to get some breeze, but the two critical machines that help him breathe sat useless in his apartment because he lacked power. He thought about trying to get to the street and walk a few blocks to the French Quarter, where power was restored on Wednesday night, but the building’s elevators were not working and he doubted he could walk down eight flights carrying his oxygen tank and the nebulizer that delivers asthma medicine to his lungs.

“My breath was getting heavy, heavy, heavy,” Mr. Gentry recalled on Sunday. “I felt like my condition was going to kill me.”

On Saturday, the sixth day without power, Mr. Gentry and hundreds of his neighbors were rescued by workers with the New Orleans Health Department, which evacuated residents of eight apartment buildings for older people that it said were unsafe.

a warehouse that appeared to lack basic sanitation.

More than 100,000 electric customers in New Orleans — about half of the city’s total customers — were still without power on Sunday. Entergy, which provides electricity to New Orleans, said it planned to restore service to most of the city by Wednesday, and utility workers could be seen pulling branches from downed power lines in a mad dash to turn the lights back on.

But forecasters warned that New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana could feel as hot as 105 degrees on Sunday, a level deemed “dangerous” by the National Weather Service. And without air-conditioners or fans, many residents were feeling the heat.

Outside the city’s convention center on Sunday, medical vans and buses chartered by the state were lined up, waiting to take evacuees to state-run shelters hours away. The city began assisting with evacuations on Friday, and on Saturday, the vast majority of the nearly 600 people who had been bused out of the city were residents of the apartment complexes deemed unfit.

The program to evacuate them began after desperate pleas from residents and their families for officials to do something about the deteriorating conditions in the apartment complexes for older residents.

“It has been extremely disappointing to see how these privately run and privately owned and privately operated facilities are allowing these kinds of conditions to unfold,” said David Morris, who is part of Resilient Nola, a city agency, and was helping to run the evacuations.

It was unclear why the city had not coordinated evacuation trips until several days after all of the city’s power was knocked out by the storm. Mr. Morris acknowledged that residents’ warnings about the poor conditions of some apartments had made the city “press on the gas” to start the program, but said it was important that the city knew the timeline for power restoration before deciding to bus people out of town.

“Evacuating is extremely taxing, extremely stressful from a physiological standpoint, especially on more vulnerable communities,” he said.

Once the evacuation buses began running, a range of residents found it useful.

Johnnica Palmore waited in a hall of the convention center on Sunday morning with her two children, ages 11 and 2, to board a bus bound for a shelter that has electricity. She had spent the first few days after the storm at the nursing home, where she works as a nursing assistant. But when she finally returned to her family’s home after the facility’s generator stopped working, she found that the roof of her daughter’s room had caved in.

“Hopefully it’s safe where we’re going,” said Ms. Palmore, 36, who said she was apprehensive about getting on a bus to a shelter far away, even if it seemed to be her only option.

A city spokesman said the state does not tell the city which shelters residents will be taken to until they begin boarding a bus, meaning those fleeing must decide to leave without knowing their destination.

Another hall of the convention center was converted into a 250-bed medical shelter for people who faced health challenges without power, such as those requiring oxygen or insulin. There were 17 patients at the shelter by Sunday morning, and officials said 11 more were on the way. Some had come from their homes, and others were being transferred from hospitals that were already overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.

On Sunday, Mr. Gentry, who had been rescued from his eighth-floor apartment, said he was feeling much better as he waited in line for lunch in Shreveport, where the bus had taken him. “I knew I had to get out of there,” he said of the days he spent stuck in his unit.

The deaths and the reports of poor conditions at the Catholic-run buildings surprised many in New Orleans, where Catholicism is both the dominant religion and embedded in the city’s culture. It is the framework for holidays like Mardi Gras and St. Joseph’s Day, a widely celebrated feast day in March.

Generations of low-income seniors have been cared for by the Catholic Church’s homes, and the number of those apartments grew to nearly 1,100 citywide after Hurricane Katrina displaced many residents in 2005.

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Nearly a Week Without Power, New Orleans Is Facing a ‘Race With the Clock’

NEW ORLEANS — When Stephanie Crier emerged from her New Orleans apartment last week after hunkering down for Hurricane Ida, she was relieved to find that the storm had not flooded the city or left catastrophic destruction on par with Hurricane Katrina. But since then, things have only gotten worse.

It has been almost a week without power in her home. Trying to fall asleep in the heat is torturous, Ms. Crier, 60, said, and she has had to get up and wash herself with cold water in the dark just to get through the night.

As forecasters warned of dangerously high temperatures over the weekend, Ms. Crier was worried about taking care of her mother, who is 81 and returning to her apartment after finding a brief refuge with a friend.

“It’s a little bit unbearable,” Ms. Crier said as she sat on a folding chair in a gym that the city had converted into an air-conditioned cooling center. “If I could find somewhere to really lay down and stretch out, I might sleep all day and not wake up until the next day.”

heat index hitting 103. The number of visitors at the cooling center that Ms. Crier visited on Saturday nearly quadrupled between Wednesday and Friday.

“We’re definitely seeing more desperation out in the streets,” said Nate Mook, who leads the World Central Kitchen, a disaster relief charity that is giving out 25,000 meals a day in and around New Orleans.

provides electricity to much of Louisiana, has vowed to restore power to almost all New Orleans residents by Wednesday, which would be 10 days after many people’s lights went out.

But local officials said that each day that passed was making the situation more dire.

“As we get into this point five or six days in, we are starting to see the elderly and vulnerable populations — the heat is starting to have an impact,” said Collin Arnold, the director of New Orleans’s emergency preparedness agency. “It is kind of a race with the clock.”

moved its opening game on Sept. 12 to Florida because of the storm.

At the cooling center, Ms. Crier waited to meet with Federal Emergency Management Agency workers about the $500 in relief funds that the agency is paying to some survivors of the storm, but she was told that she was not eligible. She had planned to use the money to leave town and get a hotel — with electricity and air-conditioning — for her and her mother.

New Orleans Mission, said the charity was spending more than $1,000 each day just on fuel to power generators at its three locations, where it is sheltering more than 300 people. Every day, a team drives into Mississippi to load up tanks of diesel fuel and gas, he said.

“We’re still days away from power,” Mr. Proctor said. “We’re in a dire situation, the entire New Orleans metropolitan area — the lack of power, the smell of garbage.”

Not far away, under U.S. Highway 90 along the edge of the city’s Warehouse District, the roar of motorcycles and cars echoes through a makeshift neighborhood of dozens of tents, mattresses and blankets. Many of those living under the highway were doing so for months before the hurricane, and while they said some things remained the same — there were no air-conditioners or refrigerators to be lost — there have also been stark differences.

The stores and bus stops where people used the bathrooms are now closed, and the city has not cleaned out the portable bathrooms under the highway that are now filled with waste. And in the days after the storm, many of the generous citizens and church workers who regularly dropped off food were unable to reach them.

Pastor Joycelyn Santee, who regularly drops off supplies for the residents here, said she had not been able to return to the area under the bridge for several days after the storm because her house lost power and she had to attend to her own family. But she was determined to return, and she and her team arrived on Saturday with trunks full of toilet paper, bags of ice, toothpaste, deodorant, food and more.

“We do whatever we can,” Ms. Santee said. “This is what we do.”

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Ex-Nurse Pleads Guilty to Sexually Assaulting Patient in Vegetative State

A former Arizona nurse accused of abusing a woman in a vegetative state who had been in his care and who later gave birth to his child pleaded guilty on Thursday to sexual assault, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

The nurse, Nathan Sutherland, who worked in a Phoenix nursing home, also pleaded guilty to one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult, also a felony.

Mr. Sutherland, 39, faces up to 10 years in prison for the sexual assault charge, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said in a statement; the abuse charge brings lifetime probation. Mr. Sutherland is being held at the Lower Buckeye Jail in Phoenix until his next court appearance, scheduled for Nov. 4.

Mr. Sutherland had previously pleaded not guilty during a minute-long arraignment in February 2019. A lawyer for Mr. Sutherland could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

who cannot talk or walk gave birth to a boy, much to the surprise of staff members at the facility, which specializes in long-term care of people with intellectual disabilities.

In the weeks that followed, the investigation became the main focus of the Phoenix Police Department, its chief said at the time, and led to questions about the company’s operations and conduct. The company’s former chief executive resigned shortly after the arrest, and the facility became the focus of not only police investigations, but also investigations by the Arizona Department of Health Services and investigations by the state into Medicaid fraud.

The state Attorney General’s Office eventually found that former officers with Hacienda improperly allocated funds, inflated expense reports and practiced improper billing, resulting in an overpayment of almost $11 million from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to the facility.

The case also led to a lawsuit filed by the victim’s parents claiming that despite promises from the state that only women would tend to their daughter, Mr. Sutherland had cared for her on hundreds of occasions from 2012 through 2018, The Arizona Republic reported.

The woman had been in the same condition, unable to communicate or move, since entering the nursing home in 1992, when she was 3 years old, according to medical records. The family’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

in 2018 that the police believed she had been assaulted. A DNA sample from Mr. Sutherland matched that of the child, a boy who was born in December 2018. Mr. Sutherland was arrested the next month and sent to jail in Maricopa County on suspicion of one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.

A licensed practical nurse, Mr. Sutherland had worked at Hacienda since at least 2012 and was assigned to a unit treating intellectually disabled people in 2014, the company said in a statement in 2019. He was fired immediately after the company learned of his arrest, that statement said.

Since its founding in the late 1970s, Hacienda HealthCare has grown into one of the largest private providers of care in Arizona for people with serious cognitive and physical disabilities, operating mostly out of a single campus about six miles south of downtown Phoenix.

“After more than two and a half years, all of us at Hacienda HealthCare are relieved that Nathan Sutherland has finally pleaded guilty to his awful offenses,” the company said on Thursday.

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How the Supreme Court Quietly Undercut Roe v. Wade

“I think it’s a reasonable question, whatever one thinks of the answers the court is reaching in these cases, whether we actually think it’s healthy for so many major questions affecting so many people to be resolved in this highly compressed, circumscribed, truncated review process,” Professor Vladeck said.

The court’s increasingly assertive use of the shadow docket has angered some of its members, like Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote in her dissent from the order on Texas’ law, “The majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this court’s shadow-docket decision making — which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent and impossible to defend.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the only conservative who dissented, criticized the process less forcefully, writing that the structure of the new abortion law was “not only unusual, but unprecedented,” and that while Texas’ legal arguments “may be correct,” the questions involved were too weighty to resolve in such a rushed way.

Texas’ law, called S.B. 8, prohibits abortion once cardiac activity is detectable in the embryo — around six weeks’ gestation, before many people know they are pregnant. (Pregnancies are dated from the last menstrual period, so “six weeks” generally means four or less after fertilization, and two or less after a missed period.) Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case that affirmed Roe, protects a right to abortion until the fetus can survive outside the uterus, around 23 weeks’ gestation.

What distinguishes the Texas law from bans that courts have blocked everywhere else is that, instead of making abortion a crime prosecutable by the government, it lets any citizen sue anyone whom they accuse of “aiding or abetting” an abortion after the cutoff point — phrasing that includes not only abortion providers but also anyone who, for instance, pays for a procedure or drives a patient to a clinic. Successful plaintiffs will get $10,000 and reimbursement of their legal fees. Defendants who prevail will not be reimbursed.

Already, the law has functionally shut down abortion in Texas.

Outsourcing enforcement of the law was an intentional maneuver to avoid judicial scrutiny by denying providers and patients specific people to sue — a point that Justice Sonia Sotomayor emphasized in her dissent, calling the structure of the law “a breathtaking act of defiance” by Texas lawmakers and writing that her fellow justices had “rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation.”

Legal experts said the novelty of Texas’ argument made it especially remarkable that the court had used the shadow docket to address it, and that it had initially let the law take effect by doing nothing.

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Pentagon Leaders Wary of Working With Taliban

WASHINGTON — Just over a day after the last American service member left Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s top two leaders expressed wariness on Wednesday about continuing to cooperate with Taliban leaders who helped provide safe passage to more than 124,000 people evacuated out of the country.

“We were working with the Taliban on a very narrow set of issues,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told reporters. “I would not make any leaps of logic to broader issues. It’s hard to predict where this will go in the future with respect to the Taliban.”

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was more blunt in his assessment of the Taliban, which took control of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, two weeks ago after rapidly advancing across the country. American commanders have praised Taliban leaders for their cooperation during the evacuation of Americans and their Afghan allies during the war.

“This is a ruthless group,” said General Milley, who commanded troops in Afghanistan. “Whether or not they change remains to be seen. In war, you do what you must.”

Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the group that claimed responsibility for last week’s attack that killed 13 American troops and more than 170 Afghans, General Milley said, “It’s possible.”

General Milley also defended an Air Force drone strike on Sunday that the military says destroyed a car filled with explosives that posed an “imminent” threat to the evacuation operation. Afghans on the ground say it killed at least 10 people, including seven children.

Pentagon officials say they are investigating the reports of civilians deaths, but General Milley said the military had “very good intelligence” that ISIS-K was preparing a specific vehicle at a specific location to be used to attack the airport.

He said secondary explosions after the drone strike supported the military’s conclusion that the car contained explosives, adding that military planners took the proper precautions before the strike to limit risks to civilians nearby.

“At this point, we think the procedures were correctly followed, and this was a righteous strike,” General Milley said.

The Pentagon leaders said the mission in Afghanistan had shifted to a diplomatic effort, led by the State Department, to evacuate any remaining Americans or eligible Afghans who want to leave the country.

The Biden administration has pledged to continue efforts to bring more people out of the country, but has come under pressure to act faster. U.S. officials believe that fewer than 200 American citizens remain in Afghanistan, along with many thousands of Afghans who assisted the United States over the past two decades.

“The entire Biden administration’s highest priority should be getting all American citizens and Afghan partners out of this disastrous and dangerous situation they created — they made commitments to these people and must follow through on them,” said Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Some 20,000 Afghans have arrived at eight military bases in the United States, where they are set to complete processing for resettlement across the country. But about 43,000 Afghans are still in transit along way-stops in the Middle East and Europe. The pipeline could take weeks or even a few months to clear, U.S. officials say.

Mr. Austin pointedly said the State Department’s Special Interest Visa program, known as S.I.V., was ill equipped to deal with the avalanche of Afghans who sought to flee their country.

Though the program was used to evacuate thousands of Afghan interpreters, drivers and others who worked and fought alongside American troops, ultimately, thousands of other Afghans at risk of reprisals by the Taliban were evacuated under less cumbersome mechanisms.

“For the type of operation that we just conducted, I think we need a different type of capability,” Mr. Austin said.

Mr. Austin and General Milley, both four-star Army combat veterans of Afghanistan, used the news conference to express their gratitude to the 800,000 American service members who served in the 20-year war. “Your service mattered, and it was not in vain,” Mr. Austin said.

Michael Crowley contributed reporting.

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Biden’s Speech on Withdrawal From Afghanistan: Full Transcript

This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries. We saw a mission of counterterrorism in Afghanistan, getting the terrorists to stop the attacks, morph into a counterinsurgency, nation building, trying to create a democratic, cohesive and united Afghanistan. Something that has never been done over many centuries of Afghan’s history. Moving on from that mind-set and those kind of large-scale troop deployments will make us stronger and more effective and safer at home.

And for anyone who gets the wrong idea, let me say clearly: To those who wish America harm, to those engaged in terrorism against us or our allies, know this. The United States will never rest. We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down to the ends of the Earth, and you will pay the ultimate price.

Let me be clear. We’ll continue to support the Afghan people through diplomacy, international influence and humanitarian aid. We will continue to push for regional diplomacy engagement to prevent violence and instability. We’ll continue to speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people, especially women and girls, as we speak out for women and girls all around the globe.

And I’ve been clear that human rights will be the center of our foreign policy. But the way to do that is not through endless military deployments, but through diplomacy, economic tools and rallying the rest of the world for support.

My fellow Americans, the war in Afghanistan is now over. I’m the fourth president that must face the issue of whether and when to end this war. When I was running for president, I made a commitment to the American people that I would end this war. Today I’ve honored that commitment. It was time to be honest with the American people again. We no longer had a clear purpose in an open-ended mission in Afghanistan. After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, I refuse to send another generation of America’s sons and daughters to fight a war that should’ve ended long ago.

After more than $2 trillion spent in Afghanistan — costs that researchers at Brown University estimated would be over $300 million a day for 20 years in Afghanistan. For two decades. Yes. The American people should hear this: $300 million a day for two decades. You take the number of one trillion, as many say, that’s still $150 million a day for two decades. And what have we lost as a consequence in terms of opportunities?

I refuse to continue a war that was no longer in the service of the vital national interests of our people. And most of all, after 800,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan — I’ve traveled that whole country. Brave and honorable service. After 20,744 American servicemen and -women injured, and the loss of 2,461 American personnel, including 13 lives lost just this week, I refuse to open another decade of warfare in Afghanistan.

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Caldor Fire Intensifies and Evacuations Are Ordered Near Lake Tahoe

Thousands of people along the southern and western shores of Lake Tahoe were ordered to evacuate on Monday as the Caldor fire intensified amid dry and windy conditions, threatening the popular vacation destination on the California-Nevada border.

The fire had scorched more than 177,000 acres south and west of the lake, and was 14 percent contained as of 11:45 a.m. local time on Monday, according to Cal Fire.

Fire officials estimated that more than 20,000 structures could be threatened by the blaze, the latest to grip California during what has been a particularly unforgiving summer for fire crews in the Western United States.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning on Monday for the northern Sierra Nevada and the southern Cascades, meaning that extremely dry conditions and wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour were likely to cause wildfires to spread in the mountains.

Twitter.

mandatory evacuation zone extended from Tahoma, Calif., on the western shore of the lake, to the Nevada border and included the busy resort community of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

The lake, which is known for its sapphire waters and evergreen-surrounded coves, is particularly popular with vacationers from the Bay Area. It is home to several famous ski resorts and casinos, which are just over the border from South Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nev. Several concerts that had been scheduled for this week at Harveys Lake Tahoe casino were postponed because of the fire threat, including performances by Phish on Tuesday and Wednesday, and by Miranda Lambert on Thursday.

Although wildfires occur throughout the West every year, scientists see the influence of climate change in the extreme heat waves that have contributed to the intensity of fires this summer. Prolonged periods of abnormally high temperatures are a signal of a shifting climate, they say.

As the Caldor fire threatened Lake Tahoe, the Dixie fire, the largest single-origin wildfire in California history, continued to rage in the northern part of the state.

As of Monday, that fire had burned more than 771,000 acres in five counties and was about 48 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Cal Fire said that more than 15,200 firefighters were on the front lines of 14 active large wildfires that had burned over 1.68 million acres.

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How Hurricane Ida Has Stunned Meteorologists

As Hurricane Ida closed in on the Louisiana coast on Sunday morning, meteorologists were stunned to watch the storm strengthen so quickly.

When Dale Eck, the head of forecast operations for the Americas at IBM, went to bed on Saturday night, he said, Ida’s winds were blowing at 105 miles an hour, which is Category 2-level wind speed. The next morning, he saw the winds had increased to 150 m.p.h., strong enough for a Category 4 classification.

“I got a sinking feeling in my stomach,” he said. “That was one of the worst-case scenarios.”

The storm had evolved swiftly from a worrisome disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean to possibly the most devastating to strike Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Before Ida became a named storm on Thursday, forecasters detected what they thought was just another cluster of thunderstorms, or a disturbance, moving west over the Atlantic, said Ben Gelber, a meteorologist at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio.

hurricane classifications. From there, forecasters knew the storm would be intense, and the only question was just how bad it would get.

From Saturday into Sunday, a cauldron of weather conditions made Ida a devastating Category 4 storm: Its winds accelerated rapidly to 150 m.p.h.; a ridge of high-pressure air off the Southeastern United States shepherded the storm toward Louisiana; and the waters in the Gulf of Mexico were unusually warm and very deep, meaning that there was a lot water Ida could churn up to sustain itself.

The fact that the water was still warm was reason to worry that the storm could continue to strengthen to a low Category 5, said Benjamin Schott, the meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service in New Orleans.

Rick Knabb, a hurricane expert at the Weather Channel, adding that rapid intensification before landfall is “the hurricane scenario we’ve always dreaded.”

Eric Blake, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, said: “I feel sick to my stomach watching this hurricane. This is a very sobering morning.”

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