Nation and world news briefs

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Heavy rains cause flooding at Jersey Shore and in Philly as Tropical Storm Fay deluges the region

PHILADELPHIA — Tropical Storm Fay has wrung out heavy rains turning streets in Shore towns into a version of Venice by the sea, triggering flood warnings on the mainland, setting a rainfall record Philadelphia, and inundated parts of South Jersey with over 5 inches of rain.

Fay made landfall just north of Atlantic City shortly before 5 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said, quite close to where Sandy arrived on land in 2012, the last time a named storm came ashore in the Garden State.

Along the way it generated heavy rains from the beaches to Philadelphia’s western suburbs.

Flooding closed the westbound lanes of the Schuylkill Expressway from the Vine Expressway to Spring Garden, and both the Pennypack and Frankford Creeks sloshed over their banks.

By 4 p.m., just over 3 inches of rain had been measured officially at Philadelphia International Airport, a record for a July 10; the old record was 2.99, set in 1931.

— Philadelphia Inquirer


Man points gun at SC Black Lives Matter demonstration, protesters say

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Protesters demonstrating against Confederate monument supporters at the S.C. State House say a driver passing by pointed a gun at them Friday morning.

The incident occurred as different groups gathered at the State House on the five-year anniversary of the Confederate flag’s removal from the State House grounds.

Protesters were standing on the median in the middle of Gervais Street across from the State House waving signs at passing cars when they got into a confrontation with a driver at the Main Street stoplight.

Protester Kamison Burgess told The State the driver “pulled up sticking his middle finger out.”

“He stopped in the middle of the road at the green light and said ‘All lives matter,’” Burgess said. “One of the girls, she was explaining, ‘Yes, all lives matter, but they can’t matter at the moment until Black lives matter.’

“At that point in time, he drove up a little more, the light was still green, and he started fidgeting around inside his car, and he pointed a gun out at us.”

Burgess showed The State video of a white, middle-aged man in a four-door Kia sedan interacting with protesters. What appears to be a muzzle can briefly be seen as the car pulls away toward Assembly Street, as protesters can be heard shouting, “He’s got a gun.”

— The State (Columbia, S.C.)


Turkey reconverts Hagia Sophia into mosque, sets first Muslim prayers

ISTANBUL — Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia will be opened to Muslim worshippers on July 24 for the first time in more than eight decades, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, vowing to maintain the world heritage site for visitors of all faiths despite international concerns over its conversion to a mosque.

“God willing, we will join Friday prayers all together here on July 24 and open it (Hagia Sophia) for prayers,” Erdogan told a televised address to the nation, an emotional speech filled with nationalist and religious references.

Erdogan said it could take up to six months to finalize preparations to make the building, home to some world-renowned Christian symbols and mosaics, compatible with Islamic prayers.

The president said his government is committed to protecting the UNESCO heritage site in a way that everyone, including Muslim and Christian believers, can keep visiting it. He did not elaborate on the planned preparations.

Pro-government media recently suggested stretching a curtain over the Christian symbols, among them a well-known mosaic face of an angel uncovered in 2009.

The sixth-century building was founded as a Byzantine church, later converted into a mosque, and then operated as a secular museum that is a magnet for tourists.

The U.S., E.U., Russia and Greece, along with UNESCO expressed dismay with the planned conversion of the site.

— dpa


Michael Flynn says new FBI notes show misconduct led to criminal charge against him

WASHINGTON — Former national security adviser Michael Flynn says new evidence shows the FBI agents who interviewed him in 2017 didn’t think he was lying, but helped cook up a criminal case against him anyway.

The U.S. Justice Department this week handed over 14 new pages of documents that show misconduct by prosecutors who suppressed evidence that would have helped him, Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, said in a filing Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.

“These documents establish that on January 25, 2017 — the day after the agents ambushed him at the White House — the agents and DOJ officials knew Gen. Flynn’s statements were not material to any investigation, that he was ‘open and forthcoming’ with the agents, that he had no intent to deceive them, and that he believed he was fully truthful with them,” according to the filing.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to two FBI agents about his phone calls with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. in the early days of the Russia probe. Even so, he appeared to overcome the case in May when the Justice Department filed a surprise motion to dismiss, citing FBI failures and arguing that Flynn’s lies to the two agents weren’t “material” to the investigation.

— Bloomberg News