Among the hardest hit was Tennessee, where officials believe hundreds of buildings have been damaged or destroyed as fires burned in Sevier County, just outside Knoxville. The county is home to the popular tourist destinations of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
The organ transplant of a 2-year-old boy who was born without a kidney will likely be stalled for months. The reason? His father’s latest arrest. Anthony Dickerson, 26, is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He has been in and out of jail on misdemeanor theft charges and a first-degree forgery charge since 2011, according to Gwinnett County jail records. Just this month, he was released on a $2,600 bond on charges of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of attempted felonies. But Dickerson promised that his son would be the one thing he did right in his life, the child’s mother, Carmellia Burgess, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. So when he found out he was a match to donate his kidney to Anthony Jr., he jumped at the chance to help. The family was “hysterical” when they found out the day of the planned surgery Oct. 3 that Emory University Hospital had changed the plan. “They’re making this about dad,” Burgess said. “It’s not about dad. It’s about our son.” In a letter The AJC obtained from Burgess, a hospital official said the surgery would be pushed back until Dickerson could provide evidence he has complied with his parole officer for three months. “We will re-evaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018 after receipt of this completed documentation,” the hospital representative said in the letter. Emory officials refused to answer The AJC’s questions about the decision or its policies, and Gwinnett law enforcement agencies have not responded to requests for comment. Janet Christenbury, an Emory spokeswoman, said in a statement the hospital is committed to the highest quality of care for its patients. “Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize risk for living donors,” Christenbury said. “Because of privacy regulations and respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot share specific information about our patients.” Burgess said news of the hospital’s decision caught her by surprise because Emory had earlier been supportive of the dad being the donor. The hospital even requested Dickerson’s temporary release from jail, according to a letter from Emory’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program to the Gwinnett County jail where Dickerson was being held. “If Mr. Dickerson could be escorted to Emory for blood work and a pre-operative appointment tomorrow, September 29, we will be able to continue with the scheduled surgery,” an Emory official said in the letter dated Sept. 28. Even though jail records show Dickerson was released Oct. 2, the child’s surgery has not been rescheduled for this year. Burgess created a web petition to urge the hospital to allow the surgery sooner. It has garnered more than 18,400 signatures, but Burgess said she doubts the petition will make a difference. A GoFundMe page also was set up with a $1,000 goal. “I’m just taking it day by day,” she said. “That’s all we can do.” In other news:
British police are investigating three new allegations of sexual assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein, all made by the same woman. In another blow to the Hollywood titan after he was ejected from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, France's president said Sunday he was working to rescind Weinstein's prestigious Legion of Honor award. In the new British allegations, London's Metropolitan Police force said Sunday that the woman reported being assaulted in London in 2010, 2011 and 2015. The force said officers from its Child Abuse and Sexual Offenses Command are investigating. The woman's name has not been made public. The force also did not name Weinstein, in keeping with its policy of not identifying suspects who have not been charged. But it said the allegations involve a man against whom another accusation was made Wednesday. That alleged assault — reported to have taken place in west London during the late 1980s — also is being investigated. British actress Lysette Anthony says she reported to police on Wednesday that Weinstein raped her in her west London home in the late 1980s. Anthony, 54, who appears on the British soap opera 'Hollyoaks,' told the Sunday Times newspaper that Weinstein raped her in the late 1980s after showing up at her London home. She said she was left feeling 'disgusted and embarrassed' after the attack. 'It was pathetic, revolting,' she was quoted as saying in a Thursday interview. 'I remember lying in the bath later and crying.' Dozens of women have made allegations of sexual harassment and assault against the movie mogul in recent days, some dating back decades. Weinstein denies non-consensual sexual activity. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took the almost unprecedented step Saturday of revoking Weinstein's membership. It said it did so 'to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.' Weinstein, who backed many British movies including 'Shakespeare in Love' and 'The King's Speech,' also has been suspended by the British film academy. The fallout from the multiplying accusations against Weinstein also reverberated in France on Sunday. French President Emmanuel Macron said he had 'started the procedures' to revoke Weinstein's Legion of Honor award. Rescinding the honor is rare, although it also happened to another American: disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Weinstein was given the prestigious French award in 2012 by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy after the French film 'The Artist' won multiple Oscars. Weinstein's company produced the film, and he predicted in an interview with The Associated Press at the time that it would augur a new 'golden age' of French cinema. French actresses are among those who have accused Weinstein of sexual wrongdoing, notably during his multiple appearances at the Cannes Film Festival. Macron said he wants to speed up procedures for investigating and prosecuting sexual harassment in France to encourage more women to come forward. ___ Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.
The Latest on the explosion in Somalia's capital (all times local): 7:30 a.m. Qatar's foreign minister says his country's diplomatic mission in Somalia was hit by the massive truck bombing in Mogadishu. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Twitter early Monday morning: 'The attack on (hashtag)Qatar diplomatic mission in Mogadishu will not deter our support for (hashtag)Somalia's democracy, security and stability.' He did not elaborate. It was unclear if any Qataris were hurt in the blast. Officials in Doha did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Somalia has found itself torn by the boycott by four Arab nations of Qatar. Saudi Arabia is the Somali government's biggest benefactor, while the United Arab Emirates has trained the country's military and launched a high-profile aid appeal this year. Somalia has meanwhile allowed Qatari aircraft to increasingly fly through its airspace as Arab nations have closed theirs off. A Somali state in September broke with Somalia's central government in Mogadishu, saying it backed the boycotting nations. ___ Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ___ 12:45 a.m. Somalia's information minister Abdirahman Osman says the death toll from Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu has risen to 276, with about 300 people injured. It is the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history. The toll is expected to rise. Somalia's government has blamed the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not yet commented. ___ 12:40 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is 'sickened' by the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history. Guterres in a tweet Sunday night urged 'unity in the face of terrorism.' Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu killed at least 231 people. Another 275 are hurt. Somalia's government has blamed the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not yet commented. Officials fear the death toll will rise. ___ 10:05 p.m. The United States is condemning 'in the strongest terms' the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history. The State Department statement expresses condolences to victims and wishes a quick recovery for the injured. Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu killed at least 231 people. Another 275 are hurt. The U.S. calls the attack 'senseless and cowardly' and says it will stand with Somalia in its fight against extremism. ___ 6:35 p.m. Qatar says its embassy was 'severely damaged' in the deadly truck bombing in Somalia's capital. A foreign ministry statement Sunday says the embassy's charge d'affaires was 'slightly injured in the explosion but he is now in a good health, and the rest of staff are fine.' Saturday's blast killed at least 231 people. It is the deadliest ever attack in the Horn of Africa nation. ___ 5:50 p.m. The United Nations special envoy to Somalia calls the deadly truck bombing in the capital 'revolting' and says an unprecedented number of civilians have been killed. A statement from Michael Keating says: 'I am shocked and appalled by the number of lives that were lost in the bombings and the scale of destruction they caused.' Saturday's blast struck a densely populated neighborhood of Mogadishu. The death toll has risen to 231. It is the deadliest ever attack in the Horn of Africa nation. Keating says the U.N. and African Union are supporting the Somali government's response with 'logistical support, medical supplies and expertise.' ___ 5:45 p.m. The U.S. Africa Command says U.S. forces have not been asked to provide aid following Saturday's deadly attack in Somalia's capital. A U.S. Africa Command spokesman tells The Associated Press that first responders and local enforcement would handle the response and 'the U.S. would offer assistance if and when a request was made.' A Somali senator says the death toll from the massive truck bomb blast in Mogadishu has risen to 231, with 275 people injured. It is the deadliest ever attack in the Horn of Africa nation. ___ 5:35 p.m. Angry protesters have taken to the streets in Somalia's capital a day after a massive truck bomb killed at least 231 people. The protesters who gathered at the scene of the blast are chanting against the attack, the deadliest ever in the Horn of Africa nation. The government has blamed the Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group for what it calls a 'national disaster.' Al-Shabab has not commented but often targets Mogadishu with bombings. ___ 5:20 p.m. A senator says the death toll from a massive truck bomb blast in Somalia's capital has risen to 231. Abshir Abdi Ahmed says 275 others were injured. He cites doctors at hospitals he has visited in Mogadishu. Saturday's blast is the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation. Many of the bodies in hospital mortuaries are yet to be identified. ___ 3:05 p.m. Local journalists say one freelance journalist was killed in Saturday's massive bombing in Somalia's capital and several were injured. Voice of America says one of its reporters, Abdulkaidr Mohamed Abdulle, is among the injured. Police and hospital sources say the death toll from the truck bomb in Mogadishu has risen to 189 in what is the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation. — Abdi Guled in Mogadishu. ___ 2:35 p.m. The death toll from a massive explosion in Somalia's capital has risen to 189 with over 200 others injured, police and hospital sources say, making it the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation. Doctors are struggling to assist hundreds of horrifically wounded victims, with many burnt beyond recognition. Somalia's government has blamed Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu on the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented. — Abdi Guled in Mogadishu. ___ 1:25 p.m. The United States is joining the condemnation of Saturday's massive truck bombing in Somalia's capital that left scores dead. A statement by the U.S. mission to Somalia says that 'such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.' The U.S. military this year has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, which is based in Somalia and often targets Mogadishu. ___ 1:20 p.m. The International Committee of the Red Cross says four volunteers with the Somali Red Crescent Society are among the dead after a huge truck bombing in Somalia's capital. A statement Sunday says 'this figure may rise as there are a number of volunteers still missing.' Security and medical sources say at least 53 people are dead after what Mogadishu residents call the largest explosion they've ever witnessed. Officials have pleaded for blood donations. More than 60 people are injured. Somalia's government has blamed the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented. ___ 10:45 a.m. Security and medical sources say the death toll from Saturday's truck bomb blast in Somalia's capital has risen to 53 as hospitals struggle to cope with the high number of casualties. More than 60 others are injured. Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein says many victims died at hospitals from their wounds. Somalia's government has yet to release the exact death toll from an explosion many called the most powerful they had ever witnessed in Mogadishu. Ambulance sirens still echo across the city as bewildered families wander in the rubble of buildings. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded victims. The al-Shabab extremist group often targets high-profile areas in the capital with bombings.
Former President Barack Obama is returning to the campaign trail to stump for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia as they gear up for next month's elections. Thursday's events mark the first time the former president is stepping back into the political spotlight since leaving the White House. Unlike more low-key appearances earlier this year, Obama's foray into two states won't be a one-and-done. He is planning more public appearances as the year closes, and preparation for the 2018 midterm elections begins. 'Obama seems to be determined to be an engaged and active former president who's playing a role in different issues and is involved in politics,' Rutgers University professor David Greenberg said. Obama is hoping to sway voters in New Jersey and Virginia, the only two gubernatorial races this year. Both Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, are term-limited. Those Nov. 7 races will be considered a bellwether of Democrats' strength in the face of President Donald Trump's victory last year. Obama will first drop in on campaign workers in Newark, New Jersey, for a private 'canvass kickoff' for Democratic candidate Phil Murphy, who is running against Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. The former president will then head to Richmond, Virginia, to rally support for Democrat Ralph Northam in his campaign against Republican Ed Gillespie. At the end of the month, Obama will go to Chicago to head up his first Obama Foundation leadership summit on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, bringing in speakers like England's Prince Harry, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and artists like Gloria Estefan, Chance the Rapper and indie rock band The National. Obama's popularity is still undeniable. In an August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 51 percent of Americans said they have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 35 percent had a negative opinion. In the same poll, 36 percent said they had a positive opinion of Trump and 52 percent had a negative opinion. In Richmond, thousands of people lined up on Tuesday to get tickets to Obama's rally. Retired Richmond social worker Nancy Jackson, 67, said she missed Obama 'tremendously' and wished he could serve a third, fourth and fifth term. She said black voters like herself have been despondent since Trump took office. 'I think Obama will bring some light to the end of the tunnel,' she said. Obama never completely disappeared from public life, in part because of Trump's constant criticism and efforts to undo much of Obama's legacy after eight years in office. He has publicly defended his policies that Trump and the GOP-led Congress have set out to dismantle: the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to be temporarily shielded from deportation. Obama was forced to return 'pretty quickly,' presidential historian Julian Zelizer of Princeton University said. 'The current president has changed all the conventional assumptions about what to do,' Zelizer said. 'There is a sense of urgency that makes this moment different than others and former President Obama has continued to be directly in Trump's line of fire — both his policies and his legacy.' ___ Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. Contact him at email@example.com, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland. You can read his stories at AP at http://bit.ly/storiesbyjessejholland and other stories by AP's Race & Ethnicity team at https://apnews.com/tag/Raceandethnicity. Associated Press journalists Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia, and Emily Swanson in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
A young Barack Obama questioned his place in the world and his racial identity, agonized over whether he'd make enough money as a community organizer, and lamented his incompatibility with his ex-girlfriend in 30 pages of letters he wrote to her that are now being archived by Emory University in Atlanta. The nine full letters, sent by Obama to his college girlfriend, Alexandra McNear, are being made public to researchers through Emory University's Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library. The university has had the letters since 2014 but could only make them public now, officials said. Written in the 1980s, the letters give a peek into Obama's psyche as he sought out the path that would eventually land him in the White House as the United States' first black president, Emory University officials said Wednesday. 'My ideas aren't as crystallized as they were while in school, but they have an immediacy and weight that may be more useful if and when I'm less observer and more participant,' Obama wrote in 1984 to McNear, who was a student at a California college attended by Obama had attended before moving to Columbia. The 'very lyrical, very poetic' letters will be useful to researchers trying to craft a picture of Obama the college student and recent graduate, Emory officials said. Parts of the letters from Obama have already appeared in books about Obama over the last few years. 'They tell the journey of a young man who is seeking meaning and purpose in life and direction,' said Rosemary Magee, the Rose Library director. Obama is 'trying to find what his distinctive place would be both in that time and going forward.' The letters span 1982 to 1984. During that time, Obama was at Columbia University in New York City, in Indonesia, and finally working at Business International Corporation, 'with everyone slapping my back,' in a job for which he had no passion. Obama wrote for the newsletter Business International Money Report. 'Salaries in the community organizations are too low to survive on right now, so I hope to work in some more conventional capacity for a year, allowing me to store up enough nuts to pursue those interests next,' Obama wrote in 1983. The future president's letters were penned in a combination of careful cursive and 'Dear Alex' in print. He wrote them on stationery as well as ripped-out yellow and white, college-ruled notebook paper. At least one was sent in Business International Money Report envelopes with the business's address crossed out and 'Barack Obama' written above it. Emory University professor Andra Gillispie, director of Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, is using the letters in an upcoming book about Obama. She said the letters are not overly romantic as they span the end of the pair's relationship. 'I think of you often, though I stay confused about my feelings,' Obama wrote to McNear in 1983. 'It seems we will ever want what we cannot have; that's what binds us; that's what keeps us apart.' But the letters aren't all angst, Gillispie said. Obama — 'clearly a person of the mind,' she said, — once ripped out a New York Times book review of Rachel M. Brownstein's book, 'Becoming a Heroine' and sent it McNear, something that amused the professor. 'This is part of his courtship strategy. Okay ... Who rips out book reviews to send to their girlfriend?' Gillispie laughed. 'I think it is a sign of his proto-feminism but it is -more of a 'Wow, this is really cerebral relationship' but I personally like the idea of a cerebral relationship. I'm a nerd too, so the nerd in me was like, 'That was real cool.'' ___ Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. ___ Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland. You can read his stories at AP at http://bit.ly/storiesbyjessejholland and other stories by AP's Race & Ethnicity team at https://apnews.com/tag/Raceandethnicity
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Trump administration officials to stop blocking a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant from having an abortion while she’s being detained in Texas after crossing the Mexican border illegally. >> Read more trending news After a hearing in her courtroom in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered administration officials to allow the teenager, identified only as Jane Doe, to be taken to an abortion clinic “promptly and without delay.” Without court intervention, Chutkan wrote, Doe “will suffer irreparable injury in the form of, at a minimum, increased risk to her health, and perhaps the permanent inability to obtain a desired abortion to which she is legally entitled.” Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union argued that Doe’s experience is part of a larger pattern by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which under President Donald Trump has refused to allow unaccompanied minors to receive abortions, referring them instead to crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women against abortions, often from a religious perspective. Wednesday’s emergency order, however, applied only to Doe, and required federal officials to ensure that she can arrive as early as Thursday at an abortion clinic closest to the government-shelter where she’s being held. “If transportation to the nearest abortion provider requires J.D. to travel past a border patrol checkpoint, Defendants are restrained from interfering with her ability to do so and are ordered to provide any documentation necessary for her to do so,” the judge wrote in the order. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked Chutkan to deny the teen access to an abortion, arguing that crossing the border illegally does not provide immigrants with broad rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. “No federal court has ever declared that unlawfully present aliens with no substantial ties to this country have a constitutional right to abortion on demand,” Paxton said. Paxton made the same arguments last week when the ACLU asked a California judge to intercede on the teen’s behalf. That judge, however, ruled that the request did not belong in her court, prompting the ACLU to file a second emergency request in Washington.