Tourists have returned to Florida in numbers that are surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Officials at Miami International Airport are projecting the “busiest Memorial Day weekend ever.” According to a news release sent Monday passenger traffic at the airport was up 17% over the last 30 days, compared to the same period in 2019. The airport is averaging 150,000 passengers a day compared to 126,000 in 2019. Similar growth in tourism is being seen statewide. Florida never had mandatory statewide mask mandates and was primarily open for businesses throughout the pandemic, even when the state was getting battered by the delta wave that killed thousands of Floridians last summer.
A British-Iranian charity worker who was detained in Tehran for almost six years says she was forced by Iranian officials to sign a false confession to spying before she was freed two months ago. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said British government officials were present at Tehran airport when “under duress” she signed the false admission. She said she was told by Iranian officials that “you won’t be able to get on the plane” unless she signed. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained at Tehran’s airport in April 2016 as she was returning home to Britain after visiting family in Iran. She was sentenced to five years in prison for plotting the overthrow of Iran’s government, a charge she denies. She was released and flown back to the U.K. in March.
Commercial flights into the Yakima airport have been shut down after a car crashed into the control tower. The Yakima Police Department says a driver was speeding on Washington Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. Friday and crashed into two transformers and the base of the control tower. Airport manager Jaime Vera says power is out at the airport and neighboring businesses. Vera says that while commercial flights were temporarily halted, non-commercial flights continue to operate. Police say the driver of the car has life threatening injuries.
Indiana Republicans aren’t showing signs of putting the brakes on rising state gasoline taxes even as the state government continues its streak of fast-growing tax collections. Motorists in Indiana are now paying about 56 cents per gallon in state taxes on gasoline _ the highest-ever level shown in state records _ and it will increase next month based on rising fuel prices. Democrats have pushed over the past week for Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to suspend the gas tax, although Holcomb says he doesn't have authority to do so. Democrats say he could also call the Legislature into a special session. Democratic Rep. Tonya Pfaff of Terre Haute said “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
A man walking on a footbridge to a Detroit Tigers game says he fell 15 feet to the ground when part of the concrete collapsed. Ely Hydes said the incident occurred May 9. But the bridge over the Lodge Freeway still was open until The Detroit News reached out to the state Transportation Department on Sunday. Hydes says he was walking to Comerica Park with a friend when “the bridge just collapsed under my feet.” Hydes says he landed about six feet from traffic. He describes himself as a “giant walking bruise.” Hydes says “crazy things” happen to him at baseball games. In 2019, he caught a home run hit by Albert Pujols, the slugger’s 2,000th career RBI.
Former President Jimmy Carter is weighing in on a court case involving his landmark conservation act and a remote refuge in Alaska. Carter filed an amicus brief in a longstanding legal dispute over efforts to build a road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Carter said he worries that a recent decision by a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could allow millions of acres to be opened for “adverse development.” Carter in 1980 signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which established 162,500 square miles of national park lands in Alaska. He says the act struck a “careful and lasting balance” between development and protection.
An Associated Press investigation has found 50 dams in Washington state that are classified as high-hazard and in poor condition. Dams are categorized by the hazard they pose were they to fail. A high-hazard dam is likely to result in the loss of at least one human life if it were to fail. Dams also are assessed by their conditions — ranging from satisfactory to fair to poor to unsatisfactory. A dam in unsatisfactory condition has safety deficiencies requiring immediate action. A dam in poor condition typically has safety deficiencies that may realistically occur, meaning repairs are necessary. Of Washington’s 50 high-hazard dams listed in poor condition, the most are in Yakima County with seven.
A contractor working on a $25 million tunnel that will connect Virginia’s Capitol to a nearby legislative office building “inadvertently” poked through the ceiling of a subterranean Capitol extension earlier this year, causing debris to fall into the visitors center cafe. That's according to a spokeswoman for the state agency overseeing the project. She says the Capitol was briefly evacuated on March 14 while crews evaluated the damage. The cafe was closed at the time and no workers were inside. The underground area will be closed for the rest of the year while the tunnel and a roofing repair project are underway.
China’s export growth tumbled in April after Shanghai and other major industrial cities were shut down to fight virus outbreaks. Customs data showed exports rose 3.7% over a year earlier to $273.6 billion, down sharply from March’s 15.7% growth. Reflecting weak Chinese demand, imports crept up 0.7% to $222.5 billion, in line with the previous month’s growth below 1%. The data confirmed fears that anti-virus controls shutting down most businesses in Shanghai and other industrial centers may depress trade and activity in autos, electronics and other industries. China’s global trade surplus widened by 19.4% to $51.1 billion while the politically volatile surplus with the United States contracted by 65% to $9.8 billion.
The Phoenix Mercury have opened the season at home against the Las Vegas Aces without star center Brittney Griner. Griner is nearing the three-month mark of her detention in Russia with no timetable for her release. Griner was detained on Feb. 17 after authorities at the Moscow airport said they found vape cartridges that allegedly contained oil derived from cannabis in her luggage, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The WNBA is acknowledging Griner with a floor decal with her initials on her No. 42 in arenas across the league.
The Pentagon says the majority of Russian forces that had been around the port city of Mariupol have left and headed north, leaving roughly the equivalent of two battalion tactical groups there, or about 2,000 troops. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that Moscow’s forces are still making only “plodding” and incremental progress as the main fight presses on in the eastern Donbas region. He said he has seen no change in Russian behavior or momentum as May 9 draws near. There have been suggestions that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to tout a major victory in Ukraine when he makes his address during the traditional Victory Day military parade on Red Square.
The state-owned Russian news agency TASS is reporting that Russia's Defense Ministry says more than 1 million people have been taken from Ukraine to Russia since the Russian invasion began. The figure includes , nearly 200,000 children. Defense Ministry official Mikhail Mizintsev said those included 11,550 people, including 1,847 children, in the previous 24 hours, without, he said, the participation of Ukrainian authorities. He said those civilians were evacuated to Russia from what he called dangerous regions in Ukraine. No details were provided about the moves. Throughout the war, Ukraine has accused Moscow’s troops of taking civilians against their will to Russia or Russian-controlled areas.
The state of Georgia and local governments will give Rivian Automotive $1.5 billion of incentives to built a 7,500-job, $5 billion electric vehicle plant. That's according to documents the company and state signed Monday. That's by far the largest incentive package Georgia has ever offered to a company. Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson says the size of the package is “appropriate” for the largest single industrial announcement in Georgia history. Rivian hopes to break ground as early as this summer and begin production in Georgia in 2024. The plant has been beset by opposition from residents east of Atlanta who say Rivian will spoil their rural quality of life.
Republican governor candidate Tim Michels has defended his Wisconsin ties saying he still votes and spends the majority of his time in the state. Michels went on talk radio Monday to address a report by the conservative website Wisconsin Right Now that details more than $30 million in properties Michels bought in New York and Connecticut between 2015 and 2020. The report also shows his children attended and graduated from high school on the East Coast between 2013 and 2021. Michels is in a four-way Republican primary race for governor.
Teams of workers are striving to repair a bridge in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine that was damaged in what a local governor described as an act of sabotage. The regional administration said it expects the repair work will be completed Wednesday. Kursk regional Gov. Roman Starovoit said Sunday that the bridge was blown up by unidentified attackers and the Investigative Committee, Russia’s top state investigative agency, has launched a probe. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the bridge, that follows a series of explosions and fires in western Russia as the war has entered a third month.
Over their nearly three decade career, the mother-daughter duo of The Judds scored 14 No. 1 songs. For Jeff McMillan, an editor at The Associated Press, the Judds' music provided a lifeline of sorts throughout his life. That was apparent Saturday after Naomi Judd's death was announced by her daughters. McMillan writes in an appreciation that dealing with bullying as a pre-teen, the insecurities of the narrator of their song “Mama He's Crazy” was relatable. “Love Is Alive” provided comfort after McMillan's father died. Through health troubles and more, McMillan writes that the Judds' lyrics, and their own life stories, provided a source of kinship and strength.
Naomi Judd, the Kentucky-born singer of the Grammy-winning duo The Judds and mother of Wynonna and Ashley Judd, has died. She was 76. The daughters announced her death on Saturday in a statement provided to The Associated Press. The statement said that they lost their mother to “the disease of mental illness.” It did not elaborate further. The Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday. Led by Wynonna's powerful vocals and Naomi's harmonies, their hits included “Love Can Build a Bridge," "Mama He’s Crazy," and “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain." The mother-daughter performers scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades.
The killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul sent an already tense and shaky relationship between Turkey and Saudi Arabia into complete free fall. Fast-forward 3 1/2 years later and it appears Turkey and Saudi Arabia are attempting to build a bridge and move on. In his first trip to Saudi Arabia in five years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan embraced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and sipped traditional Arabic coffee with King Salman before a state dinner and direct talks. The Associated Press takes a look at what’s underpinning rapprochement between the two Sunni Muslim powerhouses.
Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels says he'll divest himself from his construction company if he wins office. Michels co-owns Michels Corp. with his brothers. The company often bids for state road work, setting up a potential conflict if Michels were to become governor. Michels tweeted Thursday that he has stepped away from his job at the company to focus on his campaign and would divest himself from his ownership role if he were to win the governor's race. The tweets came hours after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a story noting the possible conflict if Michels were to become governor. State law requires governors to sign road construction contracts valued at more than $1,000.
Cookie Monster, Elmo and Abby Cadabby are utterly transformed in a new “Sesame Street” show. You might even say they’re Transformers. The trio of furry monsters wear cool metal suits bursting with gizmos and soar through the air in their new CGI-animated show “Mecha Builders,” adding some science and technology lessons along with their adventures. The show is part of a content partnership between WarnerMedia Kids & Family and Sesame Workshop. It is set to debut on HBO Max and Cartoon Network in early May. The first episode premieres Tuesday on “Sesame Street’s” YouTube channel.
(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
Alaska lawmakers are considering a request by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration that the state take over part of a federal environmental permitting program. But some members of the Senate’s budget-writing committee have expressed concerns with the potential costs. The Anchorage Daily News reports that administration officials have said the idea behind the proposal is to speed the construction of roads, bridges, mines and drilling projects. Industry groups say the current permitting process is too slow. While the state would have to follow federal standards, critics say the state has traditionally favored development and underfunded oversight capabilities.
The failure of security cameras in the New York subway station where a gunman opened fire this month is being investigated. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's acting inspector general announced the probe Monday. Police acknowledged that security cameras in three stations weren't working on the morning of April 12, including the station where the gunman set off a smoke bomb and shot 10 people. Other cameras in the subway system helped police track suspect Frank James' movements after the shooting. James also left behind a bag containing weapons, smoke grenades and the key to a U-Haul truck he had driven. The MTA has nearly 10,000 cameras at its 472 subway stations.
The days of being forced at airport security checkpoints to remove laptops and liquids from carry-on bags may be coming to an end.
Airfares are still, on average, down from prepandemic prices, but they’re fated to keep rising as travel continues its comeback in 2022.