Daily Dispatches
View near the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve
Wikimedia Commons/Photo by BriYYZ
View near the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve

Midday Roundup: Man swept out to sea during baptism

Newsworthy

A church’s grief. A 43-year-old man died after a wave swept him out to sea during a beach baptism Sunday in California. Pastor Maurigro Cervantes of Jesus Christ Light of the Sky Church said his cousin, Benito Flores, was helping perform a baptism when the wave pulled three people into the ocean off Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve. Two managed to swim back to shore. Cervantes told the Santa Maria Times about 25 people attended the ceremony at a beach known for its dangerous surf. The church performs such baptism ceremonies two or three times a year, Cervantes said.

Error message. HealthCare.gov faltered again this morning on the last day for individuals to sign up for Obamacare this year. Early visitors to HealthCare.gov on Monday morning saw the now-famous error screens, some saying the site was down for maintenance, others serving as a virtual waiting room. An Obama administration spokesperson said the site’s operators had to extend its normal nightly maintenance window to fix a software bug, but the site was up-and-running shortly before 9 a.m.

Numbers fix. The Obama administration says it will have signed up about 6.5 million people for health insurance through the new online markets. That’s half way between a revised goal of 6 million and the original target of 7 million. But not everyone is convinced the numbers mean what the administration claims. According to numbers in a McKinsey Company poll, only 27 percent of those who have signed up were previously uninsured, and only 25 percent are the young people the program needs to be solvent. Analysts estimate up to half have not yet paid for insurance, which means they’re not actually enrolled.

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Muckraking. Crews have cleared a path through the devastation of Washington’s deadly mudslide, making the painstaking search for victims easier. The makeshift road links one side of the 300-acre debris field to the other. The number of confirmed dead in the March 22 slide increased from 18 to 21 over the weekend. Searchers have had to contend with treacherous conditions, including household chemicals, septic tanks, gasoline, and propane containers. Lt. Richard Burke of the Bellevue Fire Department said the rescuers also face health hazards, including dysentery and tetanus. Hazardous materials crews hose down crew members and search dogs when they leave the site. The slide dammed up the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, but the river has since cut a new channel through the mud. The list of those still missing has shrunk to 30.

Reading Putin. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama over the phone this weekend. The White House said Putin was seeking a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, but Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News that’s doubtful. Rogers noted Russia is opening up a second military front in Ossetia, a region in Georgia, in addition to Ukraine. “They’re moving some of their most advanced equipment into South Ossetia, and then you see all of the Russian movement along the border and you see Russian covert influence operations inside Ukraine, trying to foment this notion that the Russians should come in,” Rogers said. But former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell disagreed, saying the Russian troop build-up is really a ploy by Putin. “I think what he’s trying to do is maximize what he gets out of this diplomatically. He thinks he’s in a strong position; he wants to come to the negotiating table.”

Use of force. Anger at the Albuquerque Police Department over recent shootings has boiled over into violent protests. Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters clashed with riot officers for more than 10 hours, calling on the police chief and other city officials to resign. At issue is Albuquerque officers’ involvement in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal, since 2010. The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating the police department for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and excessive use of force.

The Associated Press and Jim Henry contributed to this report.

Lynde Langdon
Lynde Langdon

Lynde lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. She holds degrees from the University of Missouri in journalism, Russian, and business administration. She is in a long-term, committed relationship with the Lutheran church. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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