News briefs Aug. 20

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Yemen on the brink of food crisis

Yemeni women hold their children in the capital Sanaa, during a visit by Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Aug. 18, 2015. The United Nations says the war in Yemen has pushed the country to the brink of famine, with both commercial food imports and aid deliveries held up by the fighting and millions of hungry women and children facing possible starvation. (WFP/Abeer Etefa via AP)
Yemeni women hold their children in the capital Sanaa, during a visit by Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Aug. 18, 2015. The United Nations says the war in Yemen has pushed the country to the brink of famine, with both commercial food imports and aid deliveries held up by the fighting and millions of hungry women and children facing possible starvation. (WFP/Abeer Etefa via AP)

The war in Yemen has pushed the country to the brink of famine, with both commercial food imports and aid deliveries held up by the fighting and millions of hungry women and children facing possible starvation, the United Nations said Wednesday.

Ertharin Cousin, head of the U.N.’s World Food Program, said that while some food aid is flowing in, fighting around major ports is stalling deliveries, while reaching the country’s interior is proving difficult and donor funding is still falling short.

U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien, who also just returned from Yemen, told the U.N. Security Council “the scale of human suffering is almost incomprehensible.”

He said he was shocked by what he saw: Four out of five Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced, and people were using cardboard for mattresses at a hospital where lights flickered, the blood bank had closed and there were no more examination gloves.

Stocks down with possible interest rate increase

People pass a Wall Street subway stop, in New York's Financial District. The Federal Reserve has hinted at a possible interest rate hike in the near future, which would be the first in years. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
People pass a Wall Street subway stop, in New York’s Financial District. The Federal Reserve has hinted at a possible interest rate hike in the near future, which would be the first in years. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Stocks posted solid losses on Wednesday as investors got mixed signals from the Federal Reserve over the possibility of an interest rate hike in September. Energy stocks fell as the price of oil plummeted.

The minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting gave no specific clues on whether the central bank’s officials were poised to raise interest rates in September. Stocks recovered some of their losses after the release of the Fed minutes, but the modest recovery dissipated and the market basically ended the day roughly where it was most of the session.

In the minutes, Fed officials appeared to move closer to raising interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade but remained concerned that the economic slowdown in China could pose risks to the U.S. economy. Policy makers also expressed concerns that inflation, noting the recent sharp decline in commodity prices, remains too low to justify an interest rate increase.

Explosion rocks Washington motel

Officials work at the scene of an explosion at a Motel 6 in Bremerton, Wash., on Aug. 18, 2015. An explosion demolished part of the motel critically injuring a gas company worker just minutes after the acting hotel manager had evacuated the building because she could smell and hear a gas leak. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times via AP)
Officials work at the scene of an explosion at a Motel 6 in Bremerton, Wash., on Aug. 18, 2015. An explosion demolished part of the motel critically injuring a gas company worker just minutes after the acting hotel manager had evacuated the building because she could smell and hear a gas leak. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times via AP)

A powerful explosion tore through a Washington motel, critically injuring a gas company worker and knocking back firefighters just minutes after the manager evacuated the building because she could smell and hear a gas leak.

Two people were unaccounted for after the explosion, but no bodies were found in the debris, Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke said Wednesday.

Cadaver dogs went through the building two or three times and found no evidence of bodies. Plus, investigators pinged the cellphones of the missing people, and they showed up “way south of the area,” Duke said.

He said the fast action of the Motel 6 manager and the people who listened to the fire alarm helped ensure the explosion Tuesday night was not a bigger tragedy.

O’Malley calls Clinton’s email issues a distraction

Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, speaks at a news conference in Las Vegas on Aug. 19, 2015. O'Malley, who is scheduled to speak at the AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention Wednesday in Las Vegas, spoke in front of the hotel to highlight employee's attempts to unionize. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, speaks at a news conference in Las Vegas on Aug. 19, 2015. O’Malley, who is scheduled to speak at the AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention Wednesday in Las Vegas, spoke in front of the hotel to highlight employee’s attempts to unionize. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley on Wednesday called email allegations swirling around front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton a distraction and said the party is making a mistake if it lets it define the nomination contest.

Instead, he said more debates should be held among the candidates to address raising the minimum wage, repairing the country’s infrastructure and other issues. “Until we do, our party’s label is going to be the latest news du jour about emails and email servers and what Secretary Clinton knew and when she knew it.”

O’Malley has lagged behind Clinton and Sanders in polls and when told by a reporter that the latest results had him capturing 2 percent of polled would-be voters, O’Malley joked that his results had doubled.

O’Malley wouldn’t say if he thinks Clinton is being honest or not and says only that the former secretary of state and her lawyers can answer questions about the emails.

Utah lawmakers set to relocate prison to Salt Lake City

The proposed site for the relocation of a state prison near 7200 West and I-80 in Salt Lake City. Utah lawmakers are set to take up a controversial proposal to relocate the state prison near Salt Lake City's airport. (Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
The proposed site for the relocation of a state prison near 7200 West and I-80 in Salt Lake City. Utah lawmakers are set to take up a controversial proposal to relocate the state prison near Salt Lake City’s airport. (Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Utah lawmakers on Wednesday afternoon are set to take up a controversial proposal to relocate the state prison near Salt Lake City’s airport.

Salt Lake City opposes the move, and city officials are threatening a lawsuit to block the prison.

If the Legislature approves the move during their one-day special session Wednesday, the proposal goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for approval.

Lawmakers who helped lead the search for a new prison site say they have enough votes in Utah’s GOP-controlled Legislature to approve the site Wednesday, but some Democrats who represent Salt Lake City say it will hurt economic development there, while some Republicans are balking at the $550 million cost of moving the prison

 

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