Nation and world news in brief for Friday, March 1, 2024 – West Hawaii Today

Sunday, March 03, 2024 | Today’s Paper | scattered clouds 70.178°

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Hunter Cooper helps clean up the Sanchez residence in the snow, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Canadian, Texas. (AP Photo/David Erickson)
Congress approves short-term extension to avoid shutdown
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has passed another short-term spending measure that would keep one set of federal agencies operating through March 8 and another set through March 22. The extension averts a shutdown for parts of the federal government that would otherwise have kicked in at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The short-term extension is the fourth in recent months. Lawmakers are voicing increased optimism that it’ll be the last before Congress approves two separate spending packages totaling more than $1.6 trillion for the full fiscal year. The renewed focus on this year’s spending bills doesn’t include a separate effort to provide military aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Palestinians say troops fired at people seeking food. Israel says scene was deadly stampede
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Witnesses say Israeli troops fired on a large crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off an aid convoy in Gaza City. Health officials said that more than 100 people were killed. That brings the death toll since the start of the Israel-Hamas war to more than 30,000. Israel said many of the dead were trampled in a chaotic stampede for the food aid and that its troops only fired when they felt endangered by the crowd.
Iran begins voting in first parliament election since 2022
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran has begun voting in its first parliamentary elections since the mass 2022 protests over its mandatory hijab laws after the death of Mahsa Amini. Questions loom over just how many people will turn out for the poll Friday. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast one of the first vote in an election that also will see new members elected to the country’s Assembly of Experts. The panel of clerics, serving an eight-year term, is mandated to select a new supreme leader if Khamenei steps down or dies. That gives their role increased importance with Khamenei being 84. Over 15,000 candidates are vying for a seat in the 290-member parliament, formally known as the Islamic Consultative Assembly. Initial election results are expected as soon as Saturday.
Some left helpless to watch largest wildfire in Texas history
STINNETT, Texas (AP) — The largest wildfire in Texas history has killed two people and left behind a desolate landscape of scorched prairie, dead cattle and burned-out homes in the Texas Panhandle. In the hard-hit town of Stinnett, devastating scenes played out as families returned Thursday after evacuating from the Smokehouse Creek fire. Stinnett’s destruction was a reminder that, even as snow fell Thursday and helped firefighters, crews are racing to stamp out the blaze because the coming days are forecast to bring increased temperatures and winds. The blaze grew to nearly 1,700 square miles early Thursday in the rural Panhandle, and has crossed into Oklahoma.
Fire at shopping mall in Bangladesh kills at least 43
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Officials say a fire at a shopping mall in Bangladesh’s capital killed at least 43 people and injured dozens of others. The fire began late Thursday in a restaurant on the first floor of the six-story mall in downtown Dhaka, and more than a dozen firefighting units were deployed to douse it. Health Minister Samanta Lal Sen said early Friday that 43 people had died and 18 people were in critical condition. Firefighters also rescued dozens of survivors. The cause of the fire at the Green Cozy Cottage Shopping Mall was not immediately determined.
Lawmakers fault Austin for a failure of leadership
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin faced pointed bipartisan criticism at a congressional hearing for his failure to promptly notify President Joe Biden and other U.S. leaders about his hospital stay last month. Republicans demanded to know why no one has been disciplined. Members of the House Armed Services Committee condemned the lapse as an embarrassment and a failure of his leadership. They said at a hearing Thursday that the fact that Biden was kept in the dark about Austin not being in command for days could have meant confusion or delays in military action. Austin insisted there were no gaps in control. He said changes have been made to the notification process.
Young South Korean doctors resist back-to-work orders
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s government is making a last appeal to junior doctors to end a walkout just hours ahead of a Thursday deadline or risk the suspension of their medical licenses and prosecution. Thousands of medical interns and residents have been on strike for about 10 days to protest the government’s push to boost medical school enrollments. Government officials warned that strikers would face legal repercussions if they didn’t return to their hospitals by Thursday. As of Wednesday night, about 9,076 of the country’s 13,000 medical interns and residents were not at their workplaces, according to the Health Ministry. Observers say many strikers are likely to defy the deadline.
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