New Orleans area braces for first hurricane of season — Thousands of Louisianans broke out sandbags or fled to higher ground Thursday as Tropical Storm Barry threatened to turn into the first hurricane of the season and blow ashore with torrential rains that could pose a severe test of New Orleans’ improved post-Katrina flood defenses. National Guard troops and rescue crews in high-water vehicles took up positions around the state as Louisiana braced for the arrival of the storm Friday night or early Saturday. Barry could have winds of about 75 mph, just barely over the 74 mph threshold for a hurricane, when it comes ashore, making it a Category 1 storm, forecasters said. But it is expected to bring more than a foot and a half of rain in potentially ruinous downpours that could go on for hours as the storm passes through the metropolitan area of nearly 1.3 million people and pushes slowly inland. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who declared an emergency earlier in the week as the storm brewed in the Gulf of Mexico, warned that the storm’s blow could form a dangerous combination with the already-high Mississippi River, which has been swelled by heavy rain and snowmelt upriver this spring.
Trump applauds far-right social media provocateurs — President Donald Trump used a White House conference Thursday to applaud far-right social media provocateurs even as he conceded that some of them are extreme in their views. Trump, who has weaponized social media to eviscerate opponents and promote himself, led a “social media summit” of like-minded critics of Big Tech, excluding representatives from the very platforms he exploits. The president used the event to air grievances over his treatment by Big Tech, but also to praise some of the most caustic voices on the right, who help energize Trump’s political base. “Some of you guys are out there,” he told them. “I mean, it’s genius, but it’s bad.”
Hospital fires 23 workers in case of excessive doses, deaths — The Ohio hospital system where excessive painkiller doses were given to dozens of patients who died fired 23 nurses, pharmacists and managers Thursday and said it is changing leadership, a sign that professional fallout from the scandal has expanded far beyond the intensive care doctor accused of ordering the drugs. The announcement by the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System comes five weeks after that doctor, William Husel, pleaded not guilty to murder charges in 25 of the deaths, marking one of the biggest cases of its kind against an American health care professional.
Turbulence injures dozens on Air Canada flight — Intense turbulence struck an Air Canada flight to Australia on Thursday and sent unbuckled passengers flying into the ceiling, forcing the plane to land in Hawaii. The flight from Vancouver to Sydney encountered “un-forecasted and sudden turbulence,” about two hours past Hawaii when the plane diverted to Honolulu, Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said in a statement. “The plane just dropped,” passenger Stephanie Beam told The Associated Press. “When we hit turbulence, I woke up and looked over to make sure my kids were buckled. The next thing I knew, there’s just literally bodies on the ceiling of the plane.” A woman behind her hit the ceiling so hard that she broke the casing of an oxygen mask, said Beam, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Of the 37 passengers and flight crew members injured, nine had serious injuries, emergency responders said. Thirty people were taken to hospitals.