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Hurricane Sally: ‘Catastrophic flooding’ as storm hits US

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Media captionHurricane Sally makes landfall in southern US

Hurricane Sally has brought “historic and catastrophic flooding” to the southern US as it inches ashore.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported flooding from Tallahassee, Florida to Mobile Bay in Alabama.

It also warned of a “life-threatening” storm surge and river flooding inland as far as Georgia.

Hurricane Sally is one of several storms in the Atlantic Ocean, with officials running out of letters to name the hurricanes.

Alabama, Florida and Mississippi have all declared states of emergency. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, whose state is still recovering from Hurricane Laura last month, tweeted on Monday to warn residents to “be smart and be safe”.

What’s the latest?

The latest NHC update says Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama at 0445 local time (0945 GMT).

It has sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (168km/h) and is moving north-northeast at 3 miles per hour (5km/h).

Rain fell sideways and submerged roads as the storm inched ashore. Other areas along the coast were also affected, with beaches and highways swamped in Mississippi and low-lying properties in Louisiana covered by the rising waters.

According to the website poweroutage.us, more than 200,000 homes and businesses in Alabama and Florida had reported power cuts by Wednesday morning.

Authorities moreover warned that the storm was moving extremely slowly, which means the rains could linger.

“Sally has a characteristic that isn’t often seen and that’s a slow forward speed and that’s going to exacerbate the flooding,” NHC deputy director Ed

Official feed of BBC News, The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, it is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees.

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Brain-eating microbe: US city told not to use water amid contamination concerns

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Residents of Lake Jackson have been urged not to use tap water

Residents of Lake Jackson, Texas, have been urged not to use tap water because it might be contaminated with a deadly brain-eating microbe.

The local water authority warned of the potential contamination of its supply to the town – home to about 27,000 people – by Naegleria fowleri.

The amoeba typically infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. It is usually fatal.

Infections are rare in the US, with 34 reported between 2009 and 2018.

Eight Texas communities were told on Friday night not to use their water supply for any reason except to flush toilets. But the warning was lifted on Saturday for everywhere but Lake Jackson.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said residents of Lake Jackson should continue to avoid using tap water “until the water system has been adequately flushed and samples indicate that the water is safe to use”.

It said it is not yet known how long this will take.

Naegleria fow

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Denmark confronts sexual harassment at work in #MeToo moment

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By Adrienne Murray

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image captionSofie Linde is well known on Danish TV and hosts X Factor on public broadcaster DR

It started with a comedy awards show and a bombshell revelation that left the audience stunned.

Now a vigorous debate about workplace sexual harassment is under way in Denmark, a country that often ranks highly for gender equality.

More than 1,600 women have signed an open letter alleging the problem is rife in Danish media. Hundreds of others have also come forward alleging sexism and harassment are serious issues in politics and the medical profession.

A #MeToo moment

“I’m really insanely happy to be the host here today,” began presenter Sofie Linde, as she introduced the Zulu Comedy Gala. “I’m only the second female host in 14 years.”

After a few jokes, Ms Linde’s speech struck a serious tone as she detailed receiving less pay than her male co-hosts.

“We can pretend there is no difference between men and women in Denmark,” said Linde, who also works on Denmark’s X Factor talent show. “It’s just not true.”

She then revealed that when she was 18 years old, and starting out at national broadcaster DR, one of the network’s heavyweights demanded oral sex and threatened to ruin her career.

The moment, broadcast two weeks ago, has catalysed a national debate that has seen Linde’s #MeToo moment come in for both praise and criticism.

‘We experienced it too’

Dismayed by the negative reactions,

several female journalists wrote an open letter of support in Politiken newspaper calling out both sexual harassment and a sexist workplace culture. “You are right. We experienced it too,” they said in their front-page address to Sofie Linde.

“We’ve all experienced it to a greater or lesser degree over the course of our careers: inappropriate remarks on our appearance or clothing; suggestive messages; physical behaviour that crosses the line. Warnings that there are a few men we should avoid at the Christmas party. It happened before. It’s still happening.”

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By the time the newspaper was published, 701 women had signed the letter. The next day it was more than 1,600. Those who signed either had direct experience or knew of a colleague who had, said TV2 reporter Camilla Slyngborg.

“We wanted it to be proof, so we don’t have to talk anymore about whether this exists, but how to solve the problem.”

“Hundreds of people wrote with small stories or bigger stories about what they’ve experienced,” she told the BBC. “It’s actually been kind of sad to go through these emails.”

Complaints emerge across society

More claims have come to light since.

Ten women have complained to DR News about the behaviour of male bosses or senior male staff while they were trainees from 2015-2019. The allegations include inappropriate comments, unwanted text messages, shoulder massages and patting on the bottom.

Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet has faced accusations too. Last Monday, 46 women wrote to management detailing sexual harassment at the paper.

Women have also shared experiences of sexism and harassment in other workplaces, from restaurants to retail, and hashtags such as “#MeToo” and “#NejTilSexisme” (No to Sexism) have been trending.

More than 600 doctors and medical students have signed an online petition denouncing sexual harassment and gender discrimination in hospitals, clinics and universities.

Over 300 women in politics have also called on leaders to root out sexism in their profession. Their statement in Politiken included 79 anonymous testimonies of incidents ranging from offensive comments to sexual assault.

One of the four women who initiated the letter, Camilla Soee, told the BBC: “Once and for all, we wanted to prove that sexism and sexual harassment is part of the political environment.”

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has responded by saying a change of culture is now necessary. “We need to do something about that… and we’ll start on that now,” she wrote on Facebook on Saturday. Other party leaders have also promised to act.

More stories on sexism and harassment

Apology from foreign minister

The debate has also brought a 12-year-old controversy concerning Denmark’s foreign minister back into the spotlight.

Jeppe Kofod apologised this month for having sex with a 15-year-old girl following a political youth event in 2008, when he was 34 and a spokesperson for the Social Democrats.

In Denmark, the age of consent is 15.

“I wish I could change it, that it never happened,” he told Danish TV. “It happened. What I can do is to have regret, I have learned from it.”

His supporters argue that it all happened a long time ago.

And some female politicians on the right have taken issue with claims of a sexist culture in parliament, arguing that the #MeToo debate is going too far.

But the Social Liberal Party’s gender equality spokeswoman, Samira Nawa, has described the workplace culture in parliament as “rotten”. “Some industries have the ingredients needed for sexism to thrive. Media is such an industry. Politics is another,” she wrote on Facebook.

Ex-Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt urged media bosses and other leaders to do “too much rather than too little. And do it right now”.

A knock to Denmark’s reputation

Denmark prides itself on a reputation for gender equality and regularly performs highly on international measures, but some are concerned that has led to complacency.

In a recent World

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Amy Coney Barrett: Trump nominates conservative favourite for Supreme Court

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US President Donald Trump introduces Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme CourtImage copyright
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If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Barrett would be the third Supreme Court justice appointed by President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a favourite of social conservatives, to be the new Supreme Court justice.

Speaking at the White House Rose Garden, Mr Trump described her as a “woman of unparalleled achievement”.

Judge Barrett would replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died of cancer on 18 September.

Her nomination will spark a bitter Senate fight to get her confirmed as November’s presidential election looms.

Supreme Court justices are nominated by the US president, but must be approved by the Senate.

Mr Trump said Judge Barrett was a “stellar scholar and judge” with “unyielding loyalty to the constitution”.

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Media captionAmy Coney Barrett “is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials”, the US president says

If Judge Barrett is confirmed, conservative-leaning justices will hold a 6-3 majority on the US’s highest court for the foreseeable future.

The 48-year-old would be the third justice appointed by this Republican president, after Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

The Supreme Court’s nine justices serve lifetime appointments, and their rulings can shape public policy on everything from gun and voting rights to abortion and campaign finance long after the presidents who appoint them leave office.

In recent years, the court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, allowed for Mr Trump’s travel ban on mainly Muslim countries to be put in place, and delayed a US plan to cut carbon emissions.

Tricky position for Democrats

Amy Coney Barrett has been on Donald Trump’s shortlist for Supreme Court vacancies for some time, but the word was that she would be the most appropriate replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

As of last week, that was no longer a hypothetical scenario.

Even before Mr Trump reportedly settled on Judge Barrett as his pick, conservatives were rallying around the nominee, whoever it might be. And if they stick together, as all but two seem to be doing, her confirmation appears assured – whether it is before November’s election or in a “lame duck” Senate session afterward.

The choice of Judge Barrett puts Democrats in a tricky position. They have to find a way of undermining support for the nominee without seeming to attack her Catholic faith or personal background – moves that could risk turning off some voters in November. They will seek to delay the proceedings as best they can, while keeping their focus on issues like healthcare and abortion, which could be at the centre of future legal battles with Justice Barrett on a conservative-dominated court.

Then they have to hope Judge Barrett, or the Republicans, make some kind of critical error. It is a tall order, but for the moment it is the only play they have.

Who is Amy Coney Barrett?

She is described as a devout Catholic who, according to a 2013 magazine article, said that “life begins at conception”. This makes her a favourite among religious conservatives keen to overturn the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion nationwide.

Her links to a particularly conservative Christian faith group, People of Praise, have been much discussed in the US press. LGBT groups have pointed out that the group’s network of schools have guidelines stating a belief that sexual relations should only happen between heterosexual married couples.

One such group, Human Rights Campaign, has voiced strong opposition to Judge Barrett’s confirmation, declaring her an “absolute threat to LGBTQ rights“.

Judge Barrett has also ruled in favour of President Trump’s hardline immigration policies and expressed views in favour of expansive gun rights.

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Judge Barrett clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia

Conservatives hope she will help to invalidate Obamacare, the health insurance programme that was introduced by President Trump’s democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

Some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage if the court overturns the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Democrats have rallied support over this issue, but it is thought unlikely that the Supreme Court w

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