Australia, facing extreme weather, gains upper hand on more than 100 bushfires

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In this Nov. 2018, photo released onNov. 28, 2018, by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, a firefighter works on a fire ground at Deepwater, near Bundaberg, Australia. (QLD Fire and Emergency via AP)
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In this image made from aerial video taken Nov. 27, 2018, burned out buildings are seen on a scorched landscape in the Deepwater area of Queensland, Australia. (Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 29 November 2018
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Australia, facing extreme weather, gains upper hand on more than 100 bushfires

SYDNEY: The threat from more than 100 fires burning across Australia’s northeast eased over the past 24 hours, lawmakers and emergency workers said on Thursday, although unfavorable weather conditions are set to continue.
Emergency workers warned on Wednesday that a spate fires had reached emergency levels, triggering an evacuation of more than 8,000 people from the town of Gracemere, about 600 km (370 miles) north of the Queensland state capital, Brisbane.
Firefighters extinguished the biggest fires after working through the night.
More than 100 fires remained alight but none was considered to pose an imminent threat, the Queensland Rural Fire Service said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said residents must continue to monitor emergency warnings.
“What we experienced yesterday was off the charts,” Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane. “We’re still not out of the woods. There’s still a long way to go.”
The Bureau of Meteorology said temperatures across the state would ease to 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 Fahrenheit) on Thursday, down from the highs of around 40 C recorded earlier in the week.
Rain was also expected on Friday, the bureau said, offering some respite.
The hot, dry weather on Australia’s northeast coast was in stark contrast to conditions in Sydney, Australia’s largest city, on Wednesday.
More rain fell across Sydney on Wednesday than would normally be seen throughout the whole of November, the meteorology bureau said.
The torrential rain caused flash flooding, left hundreds of people without electricity and caused widespread transportation delays.


Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas

Alvin Braziel appears in a booking photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Austin, Texas, US, December 10, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas

  • The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck

HUNTSVILLE, Texas: A Texas inmate was executed Tuesday evening for fatally shooting a newlywed during a robbery more than 25 years ago.
Alvin Braziel Jr., 43, received lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the 1993 slaying of 27-year-old Douglas White, who was attacked as he and his wife walked on a jogging trail.
Braziel became the 24th inmate put to death this year in the US and the 13th executed in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state. He will be the last Texas inmate executed this year.
The execution was delayed about 90 minutes after the six-hour window defined by the warrant began at 6 p.m. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a last-minute appeal from Braziel’s attorneys.
As Douglas and Lora White walked along a community college jogging trail in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Braziel jumped out from behind some bushes with a pistol in his hand and demanded money.
The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck. But Braziel became angry with the couple and ordered them to the ground.
“Doug ... was praying, asked God to forgive him and Lora their sins because they both knew that this was it,” said Michael Bradshaw, the lead detective on the case for Mesquite police. “The last thing Doug said before Braziel fired the first round, he said, ‘Please God, don’t let him hurt Lora.’“
Braziel shot White once in the head and once in his heart.
Bradshaw said he believes Braziel would have also shot then-24-year-old Lora White but his gun malfunctioned. Braziel instead took her to bushy area near the trail and sexually assaulted her.
Douglas White’s murder was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and a $20,000 reward was raised by the chiropractic college he had worked for as an electrician. Bradshaw said more than 40 potential suspects were interrogated and had their blood drawn for testing.
But White’s murder remained unsolved for over seven years.
“I really didn’t know that I would ever be able to solve it. But I really did not give up hope,” said Bradshaw, 63, who retired from Mesquite police in 2012.
Braziel was eventually tied to the killing in 2001 after he was imprisoned for sexual assault in an unrelated case and his DNA matched evidence from Lora White’s assault.
At his trial, Braziel said he wasn’t near the college during the killing.
Braziel’s attorneys didn’t immediately reply to emails and calls seeking comment on Tuesday.
Last week, his lawyers asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stop his execution, arguing in part he should not receive lethal injection because he is intellectually disabled.
The Supreme Court held in 2002 that people convicted of murder who are intellectually disabled cannot be executed.
Braziel’s attorneys later withdrew their request.
Courts had previously turned down Braziel’s appeals that have focused on claims of mental illness and that he had suffered a childhood brain injury, saying Braziel refused to be examined by a mental health expert during his trial and that his family declined to help his defense attorneys obtain evidence of any mental health problems in Braziel’s family.
His attorneys also filed a last-minute appeal Tuesday, arguing that an emotional outburst at the 2001 murder trial from Lora White was unfairly elicited by prosecutors when she was shown on the witness stand a photo of her husband’s autopsied body.
Bradshaw said he still keeps in contact with Lora White and that she started a new life and is doing well.
“Lora wants it known that she’s prayed for Alvin Braziel and his family,” Bradshaw said.