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House approves delayed $19.1 billion disaster relief package

WASHINGTON — Additional flood recovery funding for Nebraska and Iowa is on its way after the House voted Monday to send a $19.1 billion disaster relief package to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The legislation includes money intended specifically to repair storm-ravaged military installations such as Offutt Air Force Base, which was severely damaged by this year’s floodwaters.

All House members from Nebraska and Iowa voted in favor of the aid package, which was approved 354-58. All of the “nay” votes came from Republicans.

The Senate already passed the bill, but its vote came after the House had left for the Memorial Day break. The bill was then held up last week by a few conservative Republicans in the House who refused to let it pass by unanimous consent.

Some opponents were upset by the amount of overall spending in the bill, and some were disappointed that it did not include Trump’s desired funding to address the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said it was a mistake for those Republicans to hold up the legislation.

While they had a right to request a roll call vote, it was clear that it was going to roll through with a big, bipartisan majority, he said.

And the Omaha-area congressman said he was proud to support the measure.

“Americans pull together when natural disasters strike,” he said.

Photos: Major flooding hits Nebraska and Iowa towns

Disaster relief bills typically move faster than this one, but Trump and Democrats sparred over additional disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico that he opposed and his request for the border money.

But ultimately, Trump said he didn’t want to hold up the measure any longer and agreed to sign the bill despite its inclusion of Puerto Rico funding and the absence of the border funds.

Midlands lawmakers hailed the overdue passage of the bill, including Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., a member of the Appropriations Committee.

“This is great news for Nebraskans and others who have been affected by natural disasters in recent months,” Fortenberry said in a press release. “Clearly, much more work and funding is necessary, but this legislation is a meaningful step forward as we continue the flood recovery efforts.”

The final version includes additional military funds that could deliver as much as $120 million for Offutt’s immediate needs, as well as money to restore eroded land and damaged infrastructure, he noted.

“This important relief for our nation’s environmental security will reshape eroded stream banks, repair water control structures, fix levees, and restore conservation priorities,” Fortenberry said.

Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., said the state has been devastated and can now move forward with the recovery.

“Thousands of Nebraskans were affected by blizzards, rain, wind and flooding, and this is another step as we rebuild,” Smith said.

Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat, represents southwest Iowa, which saw plenty of flooding. Axne said she has been to flood zones multiple times, speaking to families, business owners and farmers who have lost everything.

“Their resilience is inspiring, but the damage is heartbreaking,” Axne said in a statement. “These communities need our help. I’m glad Congress put politics aside and passed this crucial bill with funding for programs that Iowans need to rebuild and recover.”


Plus
Nebraska Multisport Complex hires former Creighton soccer coach, delays opening again

Leaders of the unfinished Nebraska Multisport Complex say they’re making the right long-term decisions to create a top-tier sports destination for athletes of all ages. That includes, most recently, hiring a well-connected former Creighton soccer coach to manage a portion of the project.

But don’t expect to see young athletes this year at the project’s site in La Vista near Interstate 80 and Giles Road — the estimated $125 million endeavor will soon miss another self-imposed deadline.

Organizers said in November that they expected the sports fields — which are expected to host tournaments for soccer, lacrosse and other field sports — to open in mid-2019, but that timeline has again been pushed, now to 2020.

Mike Cassling, chairman of the complex’s board of directors, said a combination of rainy weather and a possible redesign of portions of the complex have delayed the timeline.

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“We want to do it right,” Cassling said. “We’ve said all along that we want to make this world-class, and sometimes that just takes time to get done.”

Plans for the complex near Interstate 80 and Giles Road were made public in 2015 after an effort to put the complex in Omaha fell through. It was originally scheduled to open in La Vista in 2017.

The complex is being built in two phases. The first phase includes a set of 12 artificial turf fields at a cost of $25 million and a $12 million field house. Plans for the second phase include an aquatic center that is expected to feature an Olympic-size pool and tennis courts.

Cassling says the fields should be ready for use in spring 2020, and the field house will open that fall.

In March, the project’s board hired Craig Scriven as executive director and vice president to oversee the field-sport portion of the project.

Scriven, who was an assistant Creighton women’s soccer coach from 2015 to 2019, has many connections in the soccer world.

Along with coaching experience at the high school and collegiate levels, Scriven did research and financial feasibility work for the Iowa West Sports Plex, a 75,000-square-foot indoor turf facility that could open in December. He did similar work for complexes in Florida and Wisconsin.

Scriven also is involved with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Youth Task Force and the U.S. Open Cup Advisory Council, where he is the chairman of the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.

Cassling said Scriven’s experience is paying dividends: The complex has secured letters of intent from regional and national groups across multiple sports who have committed to bringing tournaments to the complex. Those groups — which Scriven declined to name — have long histories of running tournaments, Scriven said.

“We’re losing out on millions of dollars because these tournaments can’t come here,” Cassling said. “Everybody’s driving to Kansas City or Des Moines or Sioux Falls or elsewhere.”

Since his hiring, Scriven has been reexamining the designs of the field complex. Cassling said the board could have specifics about the possible redesign in the next 30 days.

The multisport complex has pushed back deadlines before.

At one time, La Vista officials were counting on the complex’s aquatic center as a possible solution to the city’s aging pool. The delay means the City of La Vista is now exploring other options, Mayor Doug Kindig told The World-Herald.

“We can’t wait any longer,” he said in May.

Through a spokeswoman, Cassling said he’s aware La Vista is looking at other options for a pool, noting that the city is seeking a community pool as opposed to a competition pool like the one planned for the complex.

Mitch Beaumont, La Vista’s spokesman, said the city would speak more about that prospect at a later time.

The aquatic center is included in phase two of the multisport project. That phase is contingent on revenue from the fields and donors; the timeline is uncertain.

Made right here: 14 things you may not know came from Nebraska

Plus
Creighton's Dr. Henry Lynch, a pioneer in linking cancer to genetics, dies at 91

Dr. Henry Lynch, a longtime Creighton University professor and researcher who helped pioneer genetics as a cause of cancer, died Sunday in Omaha. He was 91.

Lynch continued to work at an age when most people have long left work behind. He worked with families facing various forms of hereditary cancer in the United States and abroad and continued to conduct and publish research. His work is credited with saving thousands of lives, both directly and through increased screening. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. John’s Church on the Creighton campus.

Lynch, known to many as the father of hereditary cancer detection and prevention, was the founder and director of the Hereditary Cancer Center at Creighton, which opened in 1984. CHI Health in 2015 named cancer centers at two of its hospitals — Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy and Immanuel Medical Center — the Henry Lynch Cancer Centers in his honor.

The Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, Creighton’s president, sent a message to faculty and students describing Lynch, who stood 6-foot-5 in his prime, as a towering figure at Creighton in more ways than one — and one who was humble in spirit, deeply passionate in his work and gracious to all.

“With his passing, we join a wide community of colleagues, researchers, patients, students and health professionals who not only mourn his loss but are eternally grateful for his dedication, zest for life and commitment to serving humanity,” Hendrickson said in a statement.

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While Lynch wasn’t the only physician or scientist to suspect that cancer could have a genetic cause, his early research in the 1960s is widely considered to be pioneering.

Other researchers initially scoffed, however, when he proposed that cancers could be inherited, not just triggered by behavioral or environmental factors.

But Lynch persisted. Through meticulous tracking of family pedigrees and cancer histories, he traced a number of hereditary cancer syndromes, including a colon cancer complex dubbed “Lynch syndrome” in 1984 and the hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome he described in 1971.

Those findings eventually were confirmed by the discovery of the genes responsible for increased cancer risk. Perhaps the best known is BRCA1, the mutation that prompted actress Angelina Jolie to undergo a preemptive double mastectomy and removal of her ovaries.

For individuals and families, tracking the cancers and establishing the genetic links behind them has led to earlier detection and treatment.

Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Lynch grew up in Depression-era New York and used an older cousin’s identification to join the U.S. Navy at 16. He served as a gunner on a Marine ship in the Pacific during World War II.

After being discharged from the military in 1946, Lynch became a professional boxer, where he picked up the nickname, “Hammerin’ Hank.”

He returned to school in the late 1940s, earning bachelor’s, master’s and medical degrees and conducting doctoral work in human genetics.

He came to Creighton in 1967.

For years, Lynch and his staff members traveled around the nation, meeting with family members, drawing their blood, taking detailed medical and family histories and advising them. Lynch’s late wife, Jane, a psychiatric nurse, worked with him. They had been married 61 years when she died in 2012.

Dr. Patrick Lynch, Lynch’s son and a gastroenterologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said his father was the right person at the right time to make the connection between cancer genetics and those family trees. He had a background in genetics and oncology, and he was persistent.

And while most researchers focus on one type of cancer, Lynch said, his father was indifferent to those distinctions. More and more in oncology, treatments are being tailored to the tumors’ molecular profiles rather than where they originate.

KENT SIEVERS/THE WORLD-HERALD  

Dr. Henry Lynch with Dr. Thomas Tape in 2016, when Lynch was honored by the American College of Physicians for his achievements in medicine.

Nor is Henry Lynch’s work done. His latest research paper — he was a senior co-author — was just published online in the journal Cancer Research. It indicates that people with a hereditary melanoma syndrome who carry a particular mutation have increased risk of early onset of several types of cancer beyond those already known — and that they should be screened for them.

Joan Bailey-Wilson, the other senior co-author, said the findings are possible because Lynch and his group at Creighton have followed hereditary cancer families so carefully and for such a long time. Over the years, Lynch’s center at Creighton has tracked roughly 238,000 individuals and more than 3,300 families representing various forms of cancer.

“His work will continue,” said Bailey-Wilson, who is with the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute. “We’ll continue our collaborations with the wonderful team at Creighton. But we’ll sure miss Henry.”

Bailey-Wilson called Lynch “a wonderful mentor, not just to me when I was young but to so many generations of young physicians and scientists.”

In addition to his work with the Hereditary Cancer Center, he served as chairman of Creighton’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health. He was honored with numerous awards, among them being named a fellow of the American College of Physicians in recognition of his lifetime of teaching and research. An international research symposium was held in his honor in Omaha in 2015.

In addition to his son, Lynch is survived by the couple’s daughters, Kathy Pinder of Corona, California, and Ann Kelly of Redondo Beach, California; 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Notable Nebraska, Iowa deaths of 2019

World
AP
Ceremony, political gibes mark Trump's first day in London

LONDON (AP) — Mixing pageantry and pugilism, President Donald Trump plunged into his long-delayed state visit to Britain on Monday, welcomed with smiles and a cannon salute by the royals but launching political insults at others in a time of turmoil for both nations in the deep, if recently strained, alliance.

It was a whirlwind of pomp, circumstance and protest for Trump, who had lunch with Queen Elizabeth and tea with Prince Charles before a grand state dinner at Buckingham Palace.

The queen used her toast to emphasize the importance of international institutions created by Britain, the United States and other allies after World War II, a subtle rebuttal to Trump, a critic of NATO and the U.N.

But most of the talk and the colorful images were just what the White House wanted to showcase Trump as a statesman while, back home, the race to succeed him — and talk of impeaching him — heated up. Yet Trump, forever a counter-puncher, immediately roiled diplomatic docility by tearing into London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The agenda for Trump's weeklong European journey is mostly ceremonial:

Later this week come D-Day commemoration ceremonies on both sides of the English Channel and his first presidential visit to Ireland, which will include a stay at his coastal golf club. For most presidents, it would be a time to revel in the grandeur, building relations with heads of state and collecting photo-ops for campaign ads and presidential libraries.

But Trump has proven time and again he is not most presidents.

With the trip already at risk of being overshadowed by Britain's Brexit turmoil, Trump unleashed a Twitter tirade after a newspaper column in which London's mayor said he did not deserve red-carpet treatment and was "one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat" to liberal democracy from the far right.

"@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly 'nasty' to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom," Trump wrote just before landing. "He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me."

Khan supporters have previously accused Trump of being racist against London's first Muslim mayor.

During the palace welcome ceremony, Trump and Prince Charles inspected the Guard of Honor formed by the Grenadier Guards wearing their traditional bearskin hats. Royal gun salutes were fired from nearby Green Park and from the Tower of London as part of the pageantry accompanying an official state visit, one of the highest honors Britain can bestow on a foreign leader.

But the U.S. president arrived at a precarious moment. There is a fresh round of impeachment fervor back home and uncertainty on this side of the Atlantic. British Prime Minister Theresa May has undergone months of political turmoil over Britain's planned exit from the European Union, and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to use the 75th anniversary of the World War II battle that turned the tide on the Western Front to call for strengthening multinational ties the U.S. president has frayed.

A sense of deja vu quickly spread around London as Trump barreled into the visit.

A year ago, he also had taken aim at his hosts before landing on English soil, blasting May in an interview hours before she hosted him for dinner. This time he has so far spared May, whom he will meet with on Tuesday, but he also has praised her rival, Boris Johnson, just days before May steps down as Conservative leader on Friday for failing to secure a Brexit deal.

"I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent," Trump told The Sun. "I like him. I have always liked him. I don't know that he is going to be chosen, but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person."

It was not clear if that endorsement would help or hurt Johnson's chances of becoming prime minister. Trump said he may meet with Johnson this week.

Never shy about weighing in on other countries' affairs, Trump also told the Sunday Times that Britain should "walk away" from Brexit talks and refuse to pay a 39 billion pound ($49 billion) divorce bill if it doesn't get better terms from the European Union. He said he might meet with another pro-Brexit politician, Nigel Farage, and claimed Farage should be given a role in the Brexit negotiations.

After lunch with the queen, Trump was given a biography of Winston Churchill as a gift — he's a fan — and shown parts of the collection at Buckingham Palace, including an 18th-century map of New York, historic photos of golf at St. Andrews and books about birds and George Washington. Westminster Abbey was next, with a tour and moment of silence at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

As Trump crossed London, he was shadowed — at a distance — by demonstrators, who planned to fly again a huge balloon depicting the president as a baby. He declared there was "great love all around" but the Fake News would try to find protests.

As often happens when Trump travels overseas, norms were shattered, including when the president complained about his television viewing options in the foreign capital and urged people to punish CNN by boycotting its parent company, AT&T.

In an interview with The Sun, Trump weighed in on the American-born Duchess of Sussex. The former Meghan Markle, who gave birth to a son in May and will not attend the week's events, has been critical of Trump, and when some of her comments were recited to him he told the tabloid, "I didn't know that she was nasty."

He said later he thought Markle would be "very good" as a royal and claimed he only meant her comments were "nasty."

Trump will make his first presidential visit to Ireland on Wednesday, spending two nights at his golf club in Doonbeg, which sits above the Atlantic. After Dublin balked at holding a meeting in the city, a deal was struck for Trump to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at the VIP lounge at Shannon Airport, hardly the grand setting usually afforded a meeting of world leaders.

The centerpiece of the president's European trip will be two days to mark the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, D-Day landing, likely the last significant commemoration most veterans of the battle will see. The events will begin in Portsmouth, England, where the invasion was launched, and then move across the Channel to France, where Allied forces began to recapture Western Europe from the Nazis.

The day is normally a heartfelt tribute to unity and sacrifice, outweighing any national or political skirmish. But some on both sides of the Atlantic are nervous about Trump, who has shown a willingness to inject partisanship into such moments.

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AP writers Gregory Katz in London and Darlene Superville and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed.

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Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Freking at http://twitter.com/@APkfreking