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New Orleans threatened by floods as big storm forms

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The US city of New Orleans was under a storm-surge watch Wednesday along with a stretch of Louisiana coast as a tropical storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the region with potentially life-threatening rains.

The storm-surge watches warn residents of possible flooding from rising waters and coastal inundations.

“Conditions appear favorable for this system to strengthen to a hurricane as it approaches the central Gulf Coast by the weekend,” the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

A flash flood emergency was declared earlier Wednesday in New Orleans, part of which is built below sea level and was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Parts of the southeastern Louisiana coast were already experiencing heavy rains and flooding, the NHC said.

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Jefferson Parish, which includes parts of New Orleans, was drenched in four to six inches of rain (10-15 centimeters) and two to three more inches were expected.

The threat of a hurricane by the weekend — the first of the Atlantic season if it materializes — prompted a flurry of bad weather alerts.

At 1800 GMT, the storm system was 155 miles (250 kilometers) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

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The storm was packing sustained winds of 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers), still way below hurricane force but on track to become a tropical storm by Thursday and a hurricane by Friday.

It was expected to unload as much as a foot of rain over the Gulf coast through early next week, the forecasters said.

Local authorities also issued warnings to residents as the Mississippi River neared flood levels, rising to 16 feet (4.9 meters) in New Orleans.

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The levees protecting the city are built to hold back the river to a depth of 20 feet, a level that forecasters warned could be reached by Saturday morning.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the flood control system, said it was “closely monitoring” the situation.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell closed the city hall and urged non-essential employees to stay home, while the city’s airport reported numerous flight delays.


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US sanctions Chinese oil trader for violating Iran restrictions: Pompeo

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The United States is placing a leading Chinese oil importer on its sanctions blacklist for trading in Iranian crude, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday.

"As part of that maximum pressure campaign, I am announcing that the United States is imposing sanctions on the Chinese entity Zhuhai Zhenrong and its chief executive Youmin Li," Pompeo said in a speech.

"They violated US law by accepting crude oil," he said.

The announcement was the latest step by Washington to ratchet up economic pressure on Tehran over its alleged military activities in the Middle East and its nuclear program by taking aim at business partners.

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Trump says he could win Afghanistan war ‘in a week’ by wiping country ‘off the face of the Earth’

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President Donald Trump said that he could win the war in Afghanistan in a week if the country was "wiped off the face of the Earth."

Trump made the remarks on Monday during a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minsister Imran Khan, according to a White House pool report.

“I could win that war in a week," Trump reportedly said. "I don’t want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the Earth. I don’t want to go that route.”

Just in, Trump’s comments on Afgahanistan, via pooler @DavidNakamura: “I could win that war in a week. I don’t want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the earth. I don’t want to go that route.”

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French inventor to hover across English Channel on ‘flyboard’

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A French inventor aims to soar across the English Channel this week on a jet-powered "flyboard", despite authorities warning the stunt is a danger to shipping.

Former jet-skiing champion Franky Zapata has pledged to go ahead on Thursday on his device, which can reach speeds up to 190 kilometres an hour (118 mph).

It will come 10 days days after the entrepreneur wowed crowds when he flew above the Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris in front of President Emmanuel Macron for the annual July 14 military parade.

But authorities are divided over the daredevil venture, which will mark 110 years to the day since Frenchmen Louis Bleriot made the first aeroplane flight across the Channel.

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