The Daily Astorian | The Daily Astorian Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:21:25 -0500 en The Daily Astorian | Justices send dispute over service dog back to lower court Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:20:51 -0500 WASHINGTON (AP) The Supreme Court says a lower court should take another look at whether a girl with cerebral palsy can sue Michigan school officials over their refusal to let her to bring a service dog to class.

The justices ruled unanimously on Wednesday that federal disability laws may allow Ehlena Fry to pursue her case in court without first having to wade through a lengthy administrative process.

The narrow ruling from Justice Elena Kagan said exhausting the administrative process is not always required. Disability advocacy groups were hoping for a more sweeping opinion that would make it easier for disabled students to protect their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lower courts had ruled against Fry, saying she first had to try informally resolving her dispute with the school district.

AP Top Political News at 10:19 a.m. EST Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:20:50 -0500 Trump lays out tougher approach to illegal immigrationWhat happens if Trump pulls transgender bathroom guidance?AP FACT CHECK: Were hands of Obama-era border agents tied?Trump denounces anti-Semitism in newly forceful condemnationThe Latest: Obama official blasts Trump transgender plansTrump pick as security adviser is independent-minded]]> Even at anything-goes Carnival, these lyrics raise eyebrows Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:20:50 -0500 SAO PAULO (AP) The typical notion of Carnival in Brazil is that anything goes: no headdress too big, no outfit too small, no song too ribald. This year, some organizers of the world's best known street party are saying: "Enough!" At least to the lyrics.

A growing number of "blocos" a term Brazilians use to refer to Carnival street parties and the singing and dancing groups that organize them are defying tradition and refusing to play a handful of songs that have lyrics considered sexist, homophobic or racist.

If you think Brazilians have met that with their trademark easygoing, live-and-let-live attitude, then you don't know how seriously they take Carnival.

"Carnival is political," said Debora Thome, one of the founders of the feminist bloco Mulheres Rodadas. "Carnival in Brazil reflects a lot of what we see in our day-to-day life."

The controversy centers on "marchinhas," songs that are a part of traditional Carnival performances and can be crass or even violent. Among the marchinhas that blocos are bristling at is one that suggests hitting a woman who irritates the singer. "This woman has provoked me for some time / Give it to her! Give it to her!" it goes. Another asks if a man is gay because he has abundant hair and then calls for that hair to be chopped off.

It's not clear how many blocos nationwide are eschewing offensive lyrics, or why it's created so much controversy this year. Some suggest the move to drop the songs is hitting a nerve at a time of great uncertainty in Brazil: The economy is in a deep recession, the country's first female president was impeached and removed from office last year, and a big corruption probe has revealed that graft is almost a way of life for the political class.

That uncertainty has combined with a growing consciousness in Brazil about issues of race, gender and sexuality. While more than half of Brazil's population identifies as black or mixed race, people from those groups have only recently begun to gain access in significant numbers to cultural areas that have traditionally excluded them, like universities, prominent acting roles or high-level political positions.

The blocos that are tweaking offensive lyrics or dropping songs from their repertoire say that Carnival shouldn't make anyone uncomfortable.

"Carnival is democratic," said Willians Medeiros, an organizer of Sao Paulo's Bloco MinhoQueens, which has dropped several songs. "It has to be entertaining for everyone, not for just some."

On the other side, some deride the decision to pull songs as a political correctness that has no place in Carnival, where everything and anything is made fun of.

Pedro Ernesto Marinho, the president of Rio de Janeiro's Cordao da Bola Preta, which is celebrating its 99th year in 2017, said Carnival has always been irreverent. "If you make it politically correct ... you have a boring celebration."

In one song many blocos have cited as offensive, the singer woos a mixed-raced woman: "But since the color won't rub off, mulata / Mulata, I want your love."

Or at least that's one reading of it. Pedro Goncalves, one of the founders of Sao Paulo's Bloco Bastardo, says his reading has always been that the singer is saying that since he can't have the woman's color, he'll take her love instead. He said a third reading, based on research into the slang of the 1930s when the song was written, suggests that the singer is saying that color doesn't matter.

But Goncalves, who is white, acknowledges that black people he knows typically say they hear the first interpretation, and his group has pulled the song.

In general, marchinhas are peppered with the word mulata, an antiquated term for a mixed-race woman that is common in Latin America but that many consider offensive. Mulheres Rodadas considered forgoing a song that uses it, but opted to keep it because they felt the song, in general, is empowering.

While some worry about lost traditions, others say nothing could be more traditional during Carnival than worrying about lost traditions.

James N. Green, director of the Brazil Initiative at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, says there is a constant debate about whether Carnival has deteriorated or lost its glamour.

"That's a constant," said Green. "You read that every single year."


Sarah DiLorenzo on Twitter: .

Oregon farm regulators may cut down federal inspections Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:20:45 -0500 SALEM, Ore. (AP) Oregon farm regulators may reduce the number of inspections they conduct for federal officials so they can catch up on a backlog of state inspections.

The Capital Press reports ( ) that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pays the Oregon Department of Agriculture $700,000 per year to make sure food manufacturers are following sanitation standards and other regulations. A state audit found that the program had a backlog of 2,800 facilities that were overdue for an inspection by at least three months.

Stephanie Page, director of food safety and animal health for the ODA, says the agency is considering cutting down its yearly federal inspections from 500 to 400. The change would free up about 700 hours a year and reduce the agency's federal funding by one-fifth.


Information from: Capital Press,

Tacoma Fire revises hiring after firefighter's drug death Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:20:46 -0500 TACOMA, Wash. (AP) The Tacoma Fire Department has revised their hiring practices in the wake of a News Tribune story about a firefighter who died of a drug overdose last summer after showing up for work impaired.

Fire officials say they plan to look more closely at a candidate's criminal background and ask broader questions about illegal drug use.

Tacoma Fire Chief Jim Duggan told The News Tribune that the agency needs to be aware that substance abuse is epidemic.

Firefighter Ramsey Mueller, son of a deputy fire chief, was hired in December 2015. He died of a heroin overdose last July.

Before his hiring, a background check revealed an active arrest warrant tied to a misdemeanor drug charge in California. The warrant was cleared but leaders later acknowledged they didn't examine the underlying court records or police reports associated with the charge, which included Mueller's confession of a 10-year addiction to heroin and methamphetamine.


Information from: The News Tribune,

Central Oregon residents call for congressional town hall Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:20:46 -0500 BEND, Ore. (AP) Residents of central Oregon are calling on U.S. Rep. Greg Walden to hold a public town hall in Bend.

The Bulletin reports ( ) that for the past three weeks protesters have gathered outside the Hood River Republican's Bend office calling for a public event in the largest city in his district. Walden's last public event in Bend was in January 2013.

A number of the roughly 50 protesters on Tuesday said they would like Walden to clarify his plans for health care in the face of an appeal of the Affordable Care Act, and his stance on immigration and refugees.

On Tuesday, spokesman Andrew Malcolm said Walden is planning to hold a town hall in Bend sometime this year. Walden has held six town halls so far in 2017.


Information from: The Bulletin,

Polish play investigated for blasphemy, inciting violence Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:12:42 -0500 WARSAW, Poland (AP) Prosecutors in Poland are investigating a new theater production that alludes to murdering the country's most powerful politician and has sexual scenes involving the cross and an image of the late Polish pope, St. John Paul II.

Prosecutors said Wednesday they opened the investigation to determine if the play, "The Curse," offends religious feelings and acts as an incitement to murder. Those are crimes that can be punished with prison terms of two and three years, respectively.

The play, directed by Croatian director Oliver Frljic, debuted Saturday at Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny.

The politician named in the production is Law and Justice party Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The Polish Bishops' Conference calls the play blasphemous and says the scenes involving the cross and John Paul II are "extremely painful" to people in predominantly Catholic Poland.

Polish play investigated for blasphemy, inciting violence Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:12:13 -0500 WARSAW, Poland (AP) Prosecutors in Poland are investigating a new theater production that alludes to murdering the country's most powerful politician and has sexual scenes involving the cross and an image of the late Polish pope, St. John Paul II.

Prosecutors said Wednesday they opened the investigation to determine if the play, "The Curse," offends religious feelings and acts as an incitement to murder. Those are crimes that can be punished with prison terms of two and three years, respectively.

The play, directed by Croatian director Oliver Frljic, debuted Saturday at Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny.

The politician named in the production is Law and Justice party Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The Polish Bishops' Conference calls the play blasphemous and says the scenes involving the cross and John Paul II are "extremely painful" to people in predominantly Catholic Poland.

Rankings in J.D. Power's auto dependability study Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:11:56 -0500 The consulting company J.D. Power released its 2017 auto dependability study Wednesday. The study measures problems per 100 vehicles based on responses from 35,186 original owners of 2014 model-year vehicles. The industry average is 156 problems per 100 vehicles, up four from a year earlier.

Here are the rankings, the problems per 100 vehicles and the number of places each brand rose or fell from the 2016 study.

1. (tie) Lexus, 110 (0); Porsche, 110 (+1)

1. Toyota, 123 (+1)

2. Buick, 126 (-1)

3. Mercedes-Benz, 131 (+6)

4. Hyundai, 133 (+12)

5. BMW, 139 (+6)

6. Chevrolet, 142 (-2)

7. Honda, 143 (-2)

8. Jaguar, 144 (not ranked in 2016)

9. Kia, 148 (+5)

10. (tie) Lincoln, 150 (-3); Mini, 150 (+5)

1. GMC, 151 (-9)

2. Cadillac, 152 (-1)

3. Audi, 153 (-6)

4. Volvo, 154 (-2)

5. Chrysler, 159 (+3)

6. Subaru, 164 (+3)

7. Volkswagen, 164 (+4)

8. Mazda, 166 (-1)

9. Acura, 167 (-14)

10. Nissan, 170 (+3)

11. Land Rover, 178 (+4)

12. Mitsubishi, 182 (-6)

13. (tie) Ford, 183 (+4); Ram, 183 (-18)

1. Dodge, 187 (+3)

2. Infiniti, 203 (-17)

3. Jeep, 209 (-3)

4. Fiat, 298 (-6)

AP Top Entertainment News at 10:10 a.m. EST Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:12:38 -0500 Judge orders R&B singer Chris Brown to stay away from exEven at anything-goes Carnival, these lyrics raise eyebrowsPartner of UK author Helen Bailey convicted of her murder7-year-old boy meets NBC's Holt after on-air shout outShooting gets underway for Han Solo 'Star Wars' filmPolish play investigated for blasphemy, inciting violence]]> AP Top International News at 10:10 a.m. EST Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:11:57 -0500 South African court rules ICC withdrawal unconstitutionalIraqi Shiite militias push to take villages west of Mosul]]> Family of sailor lost on sunken freighter settles suit Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:10:42 -0500 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Another family of a sailor who died on a cargo ship that sank after losing propulsion while traveling through a hurricane has settled their legal claim against the vessel's owner.

The Florida Times-Union ( ) reports that the family of Jack Jackson settled with Tote Services Inc. for $500,000 for pre-death pain and suffering, plus a confidential, undisclosed amount for economic losses.

The 790-foot El Faro sank on Oct. 1, 2015, while traveling between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico. All 33 aboard died.

The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation wrapped up its third round of hearings into the disaster last week. The board will issue a final report and recommendations on how Tote can increase safety.

The settlement is the 29th out of the 33.


Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union,

New Apple headquarters to have theater named for Steve Jobs Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:10:43 -0500 CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) Apple has announced that its new headquarters will open for employees in the spring and will include a theater named for its late co-founder, Steve Jobs.

Apple says in a news release on its website that the process of moving its 12,000 employees from its old digs in Cupertino, California, to the new Apple Park nearby will begin in April and will take more than six months to complete.

The 175-acre campus includes a 2.8 million-square-foot main building in the shape of a giant ring. Apple says the building will run entirely on renewable energy.

The campus will also include a 1,000-seat auditorium called the Steve Jobs Theater. Jobs famously unveiled new Apple products at theater events. He died in 2011 at 56 following a battle with cancer.

Kentucky ark attraction adding biblical truth exhibit Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:10:42 -0500 WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (AP) Kentucky's massive biblical attraction the Ark Encounter is opening a new exhibit that promotes the message of the Bible.

The 510-foot wooden ark modeled after the biblical story of Noah opened in July. Since then, it has drawn large crowds to Grant County in northern Kentucky.

The new exhibit is called "Why The Bible Is True." A release from the Ark Encounter says the new exhibit is composed of 11 scenes on the bow end of the ark.

The group that built the ark, Answers in Genesis, promotes a literal interpretation of the Bible's Old Testament and has attracted controversy with an assertion that the earth is about 6,000 years old.

A ribbon cutting for the new display will be Friday at the Ark Encounter.

AP Top Sports News at 10:04 a.m. EST Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:10:44 -0500 MLB to push forward with process for rule changesLakers shake-up: Magic is in charge after GM Kupchak firedLakers trading Lou Williams to Houston for Corey BrewerNHL teams expected to pick up trading pace over next weekLean on me: International NBA players supporting each otherPlay vs. Rest: For many NBA teams, it's still a real battleUConn moves forward with plans for new athletic fields]]> UConn moves forward with plans for new athletic fields Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:10:43 -0500 STORRS, Conn. (AP) The University of Connecticut is moving forward with plans to build new athletic facilities for its soccer, baseball and softball teams.

The school's board of trustees Wednesday morning approved spending $4.75 million dollars to design the school's "Athletic District," where the fields will be located.

UConn has estimated the project could cost up to $46 million. It is $15 million into a campaign to raise $25 million from donors.

The difference will be made up through a planned surcharge on hockey, soccer, basketball and football tickets, which will range from $1 for soccer games to $5 for football.

UConn spokesman Mike Enright says the school plans to begin construction in the spring of next year.

Up to 600 waterfowl die in western Idaho from avian cholera Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:10:40 -0500 PARMA, Idaho (AP) An estimated 500 to 600 ducks and geese have died due to avian cholera near Parma in western Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game in a news release on Tuesday says the birds were found dead on private land on Feb. 9.

Officials say tests on two Canada geese, six mallards and a red-tailed hawk identified avian cholera as the cause of the deaths.

Experts say avian cholera is caused by a bacterium spread by dead or dying birds, and that dense concentrations of waterfowl can enhance disease transmission among healthy birds.

Officials say the dead birds were buried to prevent scavengers from eating them.

Officials say the nearby Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area is a popular migratory stopover for waterfowl.

Book by new national security adviser is No. 1 best-seller Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:11:24 -0500 NEW YORK (AP) Here's a way to reach the top of the best-seller lists: Become the next national security adviser.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster's "Dereliction of Duty," first published in 1997, was No. 1 on as of Wednesday morning. The book's popularity soared after McMaster was chosen Monday by President Donald Trump to replace Michael Flynn, who departed amid questions about contacts he had with the Russian ambassador. Harper Perennial, a paperback imprint of HarperCollins, told The Associated Press that it has ordered a new printing of 25,000 copies.

"Dereliction of Duty" is a highly regarded work about the failures of the Vietnam War that is sharply critical of both the military and political leadership.

Warm weather forces shutdown at southern Indiana ski resort Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:02:33 -0500 PAOLI, Ind. (AP) A southern Indiana ski resort has suspended operations amid unseasonably warm weather.

The Courier-Journal and WDRB-TV report Paoli Peaks on Tuesday announced it was closing until the weather permits making snow. Greg Gavrilets, the general manager for Paoli Peaks, says in an email that "at this point it is not looking promising."

The National Weather Service says Paoli Peaks has only recorded a half-inch of snow since January, much lower than usual, and there's no significant chance of snow in the next two weeks. Still, the weather service says a late-winter storm is possible.

Paoli Peaks typically offers skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing each year from mid-December to mid-March.

End of the euro? French candidate plots return of the franc Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:02:32 -0500 PARIS (AP) If Marine Le Pen has her way, the French will soon pay for their baguettes with francs, not euros.

The presidential candidate from the anti-EU, anti-immigration National Front party is all about national sovereignty and independence. She wants France to take control of its money, subject to a referendum that would lead France out of the European Union and its shared currency.

But how would France pull off a euro exit, or "Frexit"?

No country has left the euro since its creation in 1999. A number of economists paint dire scenarios in which the departure of one of the euro's 19 countries unleashes chaos: market plunges, controls on money transfers, customs officers stopping people carrying suitcases of cash out of the country, a plague of defaults and lawsuits on bonds and contracts.

The euro was designed to be irrevocable. It's the "Hotel California" principle, as in the Eagles' song: you may wish to "check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

Le Pen is leading polls for the first round of voting April 23; most polls and prognosticators see her losing the second round on May 7. But after the British vote last year to leave the 28-member European Union, and after Donald Trump's election as U.S. President, fewer people are taking a Le Pen defeat for granted.

Here are scenarios starting with an explanation of Le Pen's position by Jean Messiha, the economist who drafted her 144-point electoral program.



Messiha downplays apocalyptic scenarios, saying that since a disorderly breakup would harm other euro countries they have a motive to sit down and negotiate France's smooth exit a "soft Frexit" rather than a "hard Frexit," in which France simply pulls out with no agreement or cooperation.

Her election "will be a shock in Europe that will bring our partners around the table," Messiha told The Associated Press.

The National Front, known in France by its acronym FN, foresees "a six-month negotiation period with our partners regarding what will be the new monetary framework, the new type of cooperation once we decide to go outside the euro," he said.

"If the French people make the choice of Frexit, our partners could not continue to behave as if nothing has happened... The withdrawal of a country as large as France is not a minor event. It will have very important collateral impact on the eurozone. They will be forced to come to the table and negotiate a soft Frexit, not for our sake but for their own sake also."

Le Pen and the National Front view the euro, which almost broke up during a debt crisis in 2010-2012, as headed for a breakup eventually in any case.

"It is always better to prepare the end of the eurozone instead of waiting until the end, until the eurozone itself explodes," Messiha said.

The National Front is open to different forms of post-exit cooperation. Le Pen has mentioned the European currency unit, called ECU, which predated the euro. The ECU was a weighted average of national currencies, used as a reference point so that countries could keep their national currencies in a stable but adjustable relationship to each other.



A number of economists say a French euro exit would provoke a financial and economic disaster.

That is because owners of stocks, bonds, real estate and other assets would fear having their holdings redenominated into a reborn franc that would likely fall in value. So they would sell everything before the currency switch could be carried out.

And then France would default on its government bonds for trying to substitute new francs as repayment. Corporate borrowers would be in default, or else struggle to pay debts in suddenly more valuable euros. Switching currencies on bond holders "is default, full stop," said economist Carsten Brzeski at ING-DiBa. "You're going to call your lawyer."

Economist Cinzia Alcidi, the head of the economic policy unit at the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, used the word "apocalyptic." Political leaders have shied away from letting Greece slide out of the euro because of that fear of disruption. A French exit would be even more disruptive because France is so much bigger.

"It would mean the end of the euro and the collapse of the entire banking system in Europe, given the size and linkages of the French banks," Alcidi said. "Italy and other countries would follow, or maybe even lead the exit and the sovereign default will be inevitable."

She said the impact of redenominating contracts and setting up new monetary authorities is "impossible to estimate with any realism."

As for negotiating a "soft" exit, forget about it, says Nicolas Veron, visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "That assumes a consensus that the euro needs to be dismantled and that consensus is not there. It's an impossible assumption."

Veron said the National Front and Le Pen "are talking about things that are almost impossible as if they were likely. They seem more concerned with sound bites and what resonates with the public."



Messiha says there could be disruption but says it would soon pass, as it did after the vote in Britain, which however is not part of the euro. He claims the new franc would fall only by a manageable 5-10 percent against the dollar. The euro itself has fallen against the dollar by some 23 percent since 2014 and that helped eurozone exporters.

He disputed the notion that France would automatically be found in default on its government bonds if it switched currencies, saying that under international law a country's debt is assumed to be in its own currency. Assistance could be provided for corporations. And the French central bank could support the government's ability to borrow by buying its debt, something that's restricted under the euro.

In any case, he said, it is important to "break the monopoly of financing through the financial markets... Politics must dominate economics."



But wait: even a Le Pen victory would not mean she could implement all her plans. That's because the National Front currently has only two seats in the National Assembly. She would need a strong showing in the parliamentary vote June 11 and 18. Otherwise, she could face a prime minister from an opposing party. Under the constitution, the president names the prime minister, but that prime minister must be acceptable to a majority of deputies.

Says economist Holger Schmieding at Berenberg Bank: "The likely result would be a protracted political stalemate and a serious dent to growth amid heightened uncertainty, but not a Frexit."

A Le Pen victory could, however, indirectly undermine the euro by installing an opponent of the currency union at the head of the second-largest member country.

That could damage confidence in the region and worsen a crisis that erupts elsewhere, such as heavily indebted Italy or Greece.


McHugh contributed from Frankfurt, Germany.

UK appoints 1st female Scotland Yard chief in 188 years Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:00:41 -0500 LONDON (AP) The British government says senior officer Cressida Dick will be the next commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police the first woman to lead Scotland Yard in its 188-year history.

Dick, a former assistant commissioner of the force, succeeds Bernard Hogan-Howe, who is stepping down next week.

The Home Office announced the appointment of 56-year-old Dick on Wednesday.

Dick is highly regarded by many Scotland Yard peers, but she has drawn criticism for commanding an operation in the wake of the July 2005 London bombings in which an innocent Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot dead by police after being mistaken for a suicide bomber.

A jury cleared Dick of blame, but relatives of de Menezes' had called for her not to be given the top job.

PeaceHealth plans more than 180 layoffs in Lane County Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:00:39 -0500 EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Documents released by the state show PeaceHealth plans to cut 186 jobs in Oregon.

The Register-Guard reports ( ) that 181 of the workers losing their jobs are in Lane County, mostly at PeaceHealth's medical laboratory in Springfield.

The regional nonprofit health care provider last week announced mass layoffs at PeaceHealth Laboratories, saying it could impact as many as 500 employees in Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

A letter from PeaceHealth to the Oregon Dislocated Worker Unit provides the new details, listing each PeaceHealth facility, how many people it employs and how many would be laid off.

PeaceHealth plans to sell a portion of its labs business to Quest Diagnostics, a for-profit company based in New Jersey. Quest is expected to hire lab workers in Oregon and Washington.


Information from: The Register-Guard,

AP Top News at 9:54 a.m. EST Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:00:41 -0500 Police: Suspects in N. Korean death coated hands with poisonUS shutting down Dakota Access oil pipeline protest campIraqi suicide bomber was ex-Gitmo detaineeIraqi Shiite militias push to take villages west of MosulAPNewsBreak: College Board to boost SAT security globallyGOP members of Congress face Trump foes at town hallsIn nearly 3 years on job, Phil Jackson hasn't fixed Knicks]]> The Latest: Pipeline protesters burn structures as camp ends Wed, 22 Feb 2017 06:52:33 -0500 BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) The Latest on plans to close a protest encampment near the Dakota Access pipeline construction site in North Dakota (all times local):

8:30 a.m.

Dakota Access pipeline protesters are ceremonially burning some of their living structures ahead of the closure of a longstanding camp in North Dakota.

About 200 to 300 protesters remain at the camp near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the camp closed at 2 p.m. Wednesday, citing the potential for spring flooding.

Those left in camp milled about peacefully Wednesday, many in prayer. At least four wooden structures were being burned in what protesters say is part of the ceremony of leaving.

Nestor Silva, of California, says he is planning to move to a nearby camp being set up on land leased by the Cheyenne River Sioux. Law enforcement say they expect to make some arrests, but Silva says he doesn't expect any trouble.


6:30 a.m.

Authorities in North Dakota are offering assistance and services to Dakota Access pipeline protesters as they close a longstanding encampment near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Up to 300 people remain at the camp, down from thousands at the protest's peak. The Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the camp closed at 2 p.m. Wednesday, citing the dangers of impending spring floods.

North Dakota state officials have set up a travel assistance center. They're offering personal kits, water and snacks, health assessments, bus fare for protesters to travel home, and food and hotel vouchers.

They're planning to start buses from the camp to Bismarck at 9 a.m. But law enforcement officials say they expect some protesters won't leave without being arrested.


12:16 a.m.

The Army Corps of Engineers' plan to close a Dakota Access pipeline protest camp isn't likely to end on-the-ground opposition in North Dakota.

It also may not spell the end of heavy law enforcement presence near where the Dallas-based developer is finishing the last big section of the pipeline. When completed, the pipeline will carry oil from North Dakota through the Dakotas and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois.

The protest camp has been around since August and at times housed thousands of people. The Corps has told the few hundred who remain that they must leave by 2 p.m. Wednesday. The Corps says it's concerned about potential flooding as snow melts.

Protest leader Phyllis Young says many will just go to new camps on private land.

Mezzo Jamie Barton enjoys playing 'truly evil' witch Wed, 22 Feb 2017 06:53:12 -0500 NEW YORK (AP) Poor Rusalka! The water nymph heroine of Antonin Dvorak's best-known opera never stands a chance against the witch Jezibaba especially as played to the hilt by the powerhouse mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton.

"She's one of the few characters I've encountered who is truly evil," Barton said in an interview at the Metropolitan Opera, where she is performing in the new Mary Zimmerman production. "I don't really find redeeming qualities. But I do find interesting qualities."

"Rusalka," starring soprano Kristine Opolais in the title role, will be broadcast live in HD to movie theaters on Saturday.

The opera, a variation on "The Little Mermaid" without the Disney happy ending, tells of Rusalka's longing to become human. Jezibaba agrees to engineer the transformation but warns she will be unable to speak and that if she fails at finding true love, she will be damned and the object of her affections will die.

When Jezibaba first appears, clothed like a Victorian matron with an ominous spiderweb pattern on her dress, "she's got the mask on, saying yes, of course I'll help you, but you have to agree to these impossible terms," Barton said.

"There's a lot of humor in the first act, and what she has going for her in spades is truth," Barton said. "When Rusalka says, 'I want to be human,' my response is 'Are you really going to stoop that low?' I don't think Jezibaba has a very high opinion of humans. One of the things she says is, 'A human is not a human until he has wet his hand in another's blood.' That's a really dark line, but if you look quite honestly at the state of the world now ...

"By the time you see her in the third act all pretense has slipped away," Barton said, "and the moment Rusalka throws up any sort of resistance, she gets nasty."

Throughout, Barton matches her prodigious vocal abilities from high notes to low (including a blood-curdling cackle for her final exit) with a restless physicality that perfectly conveys Jezibaba's diabolical machinations. Critic James Jorden wrote in the New York Observer that "lurching, heaving and writhing nonstop, she looked as if she might any moment explode out of sheer malevolence."


Before Rusalka loses her voice, Opolais gets to sing the most famous aria in the score, the wistful "Song to the Moon." It's a favorite recital item for sopranos and is often heard in movies, most notably "Driving Miss Daisy."

"Rusalka," which premiered in Prague in 1901, is the only one of the Czech composer's 10 operas to be performed with any regularity outside his native country. It first reached the Met in 1993, with Gabriela Benackova as the nymph, a role that later became a favorite of Renee Fleming.


The HD broadcast of "Rusalka," conducted by Mark Elder and also starring tenor Brandon Jovanovich as the prince who is fatally attracted to Rusalka, soprano Katarina Dalayman as her rival, the Foreign Princess, and bass-baritone Eric Owens as her father, will be shown starting at 12:55 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. A list of theaters can be found at the Met's website:

In the U.S., it will be repeated on Wednesday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m. local time.


Corrects to James Jorden.