Nation and world news briefs

©Tribune News Service

After a June lull in storms, be ready for hurricane season to heat up again

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — From the earliest outlooks of 2020, experts have warned of a busy hurricane season. But after starting with a bang, the Atlantic went quiet.

Things are changing with the disappearance of a hurricane-suppressing layer of Saharan dust and hot, dry air that put parts of the tropics to sleep.

This week saw three systems form that caught the attention of hurricane watchers.

What will the rest of July, and the remaining four months of hurricane season look like? Obviously nobody knows, but it’s been a hectic start and we’re still much closer to the start than the finish.

“We’re only entering the second month of the six-month hurricane season,” said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, “so we have a long way to go.”

—South Florida Sun Sentinel


Deutsche Bank pays $150 million fine for failing to monitor Jeffrey Epstein accounts

NEW YORK — Deutsche Bank was slapped with a $150 million penalty Tuesday for failing to monitor Jeffrey Epstein’s accounts even though he faced widespread sex trafficking allegations.

The troubled German bank did not scrutinize hundreds of transactions totaling millions of dollars by Epstein between 2013 and 2018 despite clear warning signs they could be linked to crimes, New York state’s Department of Financial Services said.

“Banks are the first line of defense with respect to preventing the facilitation of crime through the financial system, and it is fundamental that banks tailor the monitoring of their customers’ activity based upon the types of risk that are posed by a particular customer,” Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell said.

“In the case of Jeffrey Epstein in particular, despite knowing Mr. Epstein’s terrible criminal history, the bank inexcusably failed to detect or prevent millions of dollars of suspicious transactions.”

The shady transactions included payments to Epstein’s alleged enablers, more than $7 million in settlement payments and $6 million payments to law firms along with payments to Russian models, for women’s school tuition, hotel and rent expenses, and payments to “numerous women with Eastern European surnames,” the agency said.

—New York Daily News


Derek Chauvin’s wife is seeking both of their homes in her divorce petition

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin’s wife is asking for the couple’s two homes in their divorce, and could walk away with them if he doesn’t contest her request.

Veteran family law attorneys said it’s too early to determine whether Chauvin’s wife, Kellie Chauvin, is asking for more than half the couple’s assets because divvying up marital assets is a complicated process.

She filed for divorce two days after her husband was charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25 killing of George Floyd, who died after then-officer Chauvin planted his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as he lay prone in the street in handcuffs.

Kellie Chauvin, 45, filed a divorce petition May 31 in Washington County District Court, less than a week after Floyd’s killing. Some have questioned whether her demand for real estate is a ploy to protect the assets from a lawsuit. Family law attorneys say it’s too soon to draw any conclusions.

Derek Chauvin, 44, had 30 days from the date he received notice of the divorce petition to file an answer and counterpetition if he wanted to challenge any of Kellie’s proposals. That expired Friday. He had not filed any papers as of late Monday, although it’s common for divorce attorneys to grant an extension without filing such a notice in the court system. (The courts were closed July 3 for the Independence Day holiday.)

—Minneapolis Star Tribune


Texas sees new records in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas health officials reported 10,028 new COVID-19 cases, 60 additional deaths and 9,286 total hospitalizations Tuesday — all single-day records for the state amid a pandemic that is showing no sign of diminishing.

Texas Department of State Health Services had warned that Texas would see a surge in new cases Tuesday after several jurisdictions did not report infections during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Even so, hospitalizations continued to rise over the weekend and into Tuesday, setting a new record high for the ninth consecutive day.

Hospitalizations have more than doubled from two weeks ago, when the health agency reported 4,092 patients in Texas hospitals on June 23.

The state’s 60 new coronavirus-related deaths brought the statewide death toll to 2,715.

Gov. Greg Abbott has aimed to slow down those figures with the closure of bars, reduced restaurant occupancy limits and a statewide mask ban. He paused future reopenings last month and warned of a “massive outbreak” unless Texans follow social distancing guidelines.

—Austin American-Statesman


Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has COVID-19

MEXICO CITY — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus outbreak even as it has ravaged his nation, said Tuesday that he has COVID-19.

Confirming his diagnosis to journalists in Brasilia on Tuesday, Bolsonaro said that he was suffering muscle aches, fatigue and a fever but otherwise felt “normal.”

“I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” said Bolsonaro, who said he was taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug praised by President Donald Trump that has not proved to be an effective treatment for the coronavirus.

Like Trump, who Bolsonaro is frequently compared to because they embrace a similar brand of populist politics, the Brazilian president has been a vocal skeptic of the dangers of pandemic as well as social distancing efforts to slow its spread.

He has dismissed COVID-19 as “a little flu” and has criticized media coverage of the pandemic as “hysteria.” He was recently warned by a judge that he may have to pay a $400 fine for appearing in public without a face mask. Twitter has deleted multiple Bolsonaro tweets that it said spread misinformation about the disease.

Bolsonaro has clashed with governors of the country’s most populous states, saying lockdowns enacted in those regions will do more harm than allowing the virus to run its natural course.

—Los Angeles Times