Five national stories of the week

Search and rescue operations resume as members of the Pennsylvania Search and Rescue team comb through the debris several after hours after the Champlain Tower South complex was demolish on Monday, July 5, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/TNS)
Search and rescue operations resume as members of the Pennsylvania Search and Rescue team comb through the debris several after hours after the Champlain Tower South complex was demolish on Monday, July 5, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/TNS)

Editor’s Note: This listicle is part of a series by The Ball State Daily News summarizing five stories from around the world. All summaries are based on stories published by The Associated Press.

Tropical Storm Elsa gaining strength, R. Kelly's lawyer wants trial delayed due to jail quarantine, building collapse lawsuits seek to get answers, hunting and poaching reduces Wisconsin's wolf numbers and flight delays hint at a hard summer for travelers makes up this week's five national stories.

Tropical Storm Elsa gaining strength, lashing Florida Keys

The weather was getting worse in southern Florida early Tuesday as Tropical Storm Elsa began lashing the Florida Keys, complicating the search for survivors in the condo collapse and prompting a hurricane watch for the peninsula’s upper Gulf Coast. In addition to damaging winds and heavy rains, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center warned of life-threatening storm surges, flooding and isolated tornadoes. A hurricane watch was issued for a long stretch of coastline, from Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay to the Steinhatchee River in Florida’s Big Bend area. Bands of rain were expected to reach Surfside on Florida’s Atlantic coast, soaking the rubble of the Champlain Towers South.

R. Kelly's lawyer wants trial delayed due to jail quarantine

R. Kelly’s new lawyers are asking a judge to postpone his Aug. 9 sex trafficking trial in New York City, arguing they haven’t had enough time to prepare because he’s under a mandatory jail quarantine since his transfer from Chicago. In a letter Monday to U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly, lawyer Deveraux Cannick wrote that Kelly’s 14-day quarantine ending Tuesday has exacerbated what Cannick said was a “herculean effort” to get up to speed after their June 21 hiring. Cannick argued in the letter that Kelly’s new lawyers haven’t been able to meet with him in person because of the quarantine and that proceeding with the R&B star’s trial as scheduled would rob him of effective and meaningful representation.

Building collapse lawsuits seek to get answers, assign blame

Even as the search continues over a week later for signs of life in the mangled debris of the fallen Champlain Towers South, the process of seeking answers about why it happened and who is to blame is already underway in Florida’s legal system. Authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the collapse of the oceanfront condominium building, which left at least 28 confirmed dead and more than 117 unaccounted for. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle pledged to bring the matter soon before grand jurors, who could recommend criminal charges or simply investigate the cause to suggest reforms.

Study says hunting, poaching reduce Wisconsin wolf numbers

As many as one-third of Wisconsin’s gray wolves likely died at the hands of humans in the months after the federal government announced it was ending legal protections, according to a study released Monday. Poaching and a February hunt that far exceeded kill quotas were largely responsible for the drop-off, University of Wisconsin scientists said, though some other scientists say more direct evidence is needed for some of the calculations. Adrian Treves, an environmental studies professor, said his team’s findings should raise doubts about having another hunting season this fall and serve notice to wildlife managers in other states with wolves.

Southwest, American delays hint at hard summer for travelers

Southwest Airlines customers have struggled with thousands of delays and hundreds of canceled flights in the past three weeks because of computer problems, staffing shortages and bad weather. American Airlines is also grappling with a surge in delays, and it has trimmed its schedule through mid-July at least in part because it doesn’t have enough pilots, according to the pilots’ union. At the same time, the number of Americans getting on planes is at a pandemic-era high. Just under 2.2 million travelers were screened at U.S. airports on Friday, the highest number since early March 2020. Travelers are posting photos of long airport lines and describing painful flights.

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