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AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EDT

Burning Man revelers begin exodus after flooding left tens of thousands stranded in Nevada desert BLACK ROCK DESERT, Nev.

Burning Man revelers begin exodus after flooding left tens of thousands stranded in Nevada desert

BLACK ROCK DESERT, Nev. (AP) — Muddy roads that left tens of thousands of partygoers stranded for days at a counterculture festival had dried up enough by Monday afternoon to allow them to begin their exodus from the northern Nevada desert.

Burning Man organizers said they began to let traffic flow out of the main road around 2 p.m. local time — even as they continued to ask revelers to delay their exit to Tuesday to ease traffic. As of Monday afternoon, they said about 64,000 people remained at the festival site.

Organizers also asked attendees not to walk out of the Black Rock Desert about 110 miles (177 kilometers) north of Reno as others had done throughout the weekend, including celebrity DJ Diplo and comedian Chris Rock. They didn't specify why.

The festival had been closed to vehicles after more than a half-inch (1.3 centimeters) of rain fell on Friday. The road closures came just before “the Man” was to be set ablaze Saturday night. The event traditionally culminates in the torching of the large wooden effigy shaped like a man and a wooden temple structure during the final two nights, but the fires were postponed to Monday night as authorities worked to reopen exit routes by the end of the Labor Day weekend.

Mark Deutschendorf, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, said it should stay mostly clear and dry at the festival site Monday, although some light rain showers could pass through Tuesday morning.


Security in Ecuador has come undone as drug cartels exploit the banana industry to ship cocaine

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (AP) — Men walk through a lush plantation between Ecuador ’s balmy Pacific coast and its majestic Andes, lopping hundreds of bunches of green bananas from groaning plants twice their height.

Workers haul the bunches to an assembly line, where the bananas are washed, weighed and plastered with stickers for European buyers. Owner Franklin Torres is monitoring all activity on a recent morning to make sure the fruit meets international beauty standards — and ever more important, is packed for shipment free of cocaine.

Torres is hypervigilant because Ecuador is increasingly at the confluence of two global trades: bananas and cocaine.

The South American country is the world’s largest exporter of bananas, shipping about 6.5 million metric tons (7.2 tons) a year by sea. It is also wedged between the world’s largest cocaine producers, Peru and Colombia, and drug traffickers find containers filled with bananas the perfect vehicle to smuggle their product.

Drug traffickers’ infiltration of the industry that is responsible for about 30% of the world’s bananas has contributed to unprecedented violence across this once-peaceful nation. Shootings, homicides, kidnappings and extortions have become part of daily life, particularly in the Pacific port city and banana-shipping hub of Guayaquil.


Putin says he won't renew the grain deal until the West meets his demands. The West says it has

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that a landmark deal allowing Ukraine to export grain safely through the Black Sea amid the war won’t be restored until the West meets Moscow's demands on its own agricultural exports.

Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed the Kremlin’s demands as a ploy to advance its own interests.

Still, Putin's remarks dashed hopes that his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could revive an agreement seen as vital for global food supplies, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Russia refused to extend the deal in July, complaining that a parallel agreement promising to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertilizer hadn’t been honored. It said restrictions on shipping and insurance hampered its agricultural trade, though it has shipped record amounts of wheat since last year.

Putin reiterated those complaints Monday, while also telling reporters that if those commitments were honored, Russia could return to the deal “within days.”


Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell, known for the ubiquitous pop-rock hit 'All Star,' dies at 56

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Harwell, the longtime frontman of the Grammy-nominated pop rock band Smash Mouth that was behind the megahit “All Star” has died. He was 56.

The band’s manager, Robert Hayes, said Harwell “passed peacefully and comfortably” Monday morning surrounded by family and friends at his home in Boise, Idaho. The cause of death was acute liver failure, Hayes said in a statement.

Smash Mouth is also known for hits including “ Walkin' on the Sun ” and “ Then The Morning Comes."

“Steve Harwell was a true American Original. A larger than life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle," Hayes said. "Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom.”

“His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition, and his king-size (cojones),” Hayes continued. “Steve lived a 100% full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out.”


Biden celebrates unions and job creation during a Philadelphia Labor Day appearance

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — President Joe Biden, who often says he's the most pro-union president in history, touted the importance of organized labor and applauded American workers in building the economy during a Labor Day appearance in Philadelphia on Monday.

The Democratic president spoke about how the economy is recovering from the crippling coronavirus pandemic and about what his administration has done to pay for infrastructure improvements, and cited the importance of unions in building the middle class.

As the pace of the Republican primary season escalates, Biden is trying to reclaim ground among working class voters that abandoned Democrats and moved their allegiance to former President Donald Trump and others over cultural issues. And on Monday in Philadelphia he gave a preview of that argument, repeatedly referring to Trump as “the last guy” and likening Trump’s job creation record to that of President Herbert Hoover, who presided over the country as it spiraled into the Great Depression and was soundly defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Speaking of Trump — who is the leading Republican candidate in the polls so far — Biden said: “He left office with fewer jobs in America than when he got elected into office."

Biden spoke to a crowd of union members from a diversity of industries — from steel workers to stage hands — and focused on the impact that his administration's policies have had on working people.


UAW's clash with Big 3 automakers shows off a more confrontational union as strike deadline looms

DETROIT (AP) — A 46% pay raise. A 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay. A restoration of traditional pensions.

The demands that a more combative United Auto Workers union has pressed on General Motors, Stellantis and Ford — demands that even the UAW's own president calls “audacious” — are edging it closer to a strike when its contract ends Sept. 14.

The automakers, which are making billions in profits, have dismissed the UAW's wish list. They argue that its demands are unrealistic at a time of fierce competition from Tesla and lower-wage foreign automakers as the world shifts from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. The wide gulf between the sides could mean a strike against one or more of the automakers, which could send already-inflated vehicle prices even higher.

A potential strike by 146,000 UAW members comes against the backdrop of increasingly emboldened U.S. unions of all kinds. The number of strikes and threatened strikes is growing, involving Hollywood actors and writers, sizable settlements with railroads and major concessions by corporate giants like UPS.

Shawn Fain, who won the UAW’s presidency this spring in the first direct election by members, has set high expectations and assured union members that they can achieve significant gains if they are willing to walk picket lines.


North Korea's Kim Jong Un may meet with Putin in Russia this month, US official says

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official said Monday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may travel to Russia soon to meet with President Vladimir Putin as the Kremlin tries to acquire military equipment for use in its war in Ukraine.

The official, who was not authorized to address the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. expects Kim will make the trip within the month. The official said the U.S. isn’t sure exactly where or when the meeting would take place, but the Pacific port city of Vladivostok would be a likely possibility given its relative proximity to North Korea.

National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson noted Monday that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to Pyongyang last month and tried to persuade North Korea to sell artillery ammunition to Russia.

Watson said, “We have information that Kim Jong Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia.”

She added that the U.S. is urging North Korea "to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia.”


In the pivotal South Carolina primary, Republican candidates search for a path against Donald Trump

ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) — A microphone in hand, Sen. Tim Scott left the podium at a recent barbecue event in South Carolina and made his way through tables draped in red, white and blue as attendees finished plates of pulled pork and baked beans.

As he talked about his campaign, Scott passed Casey DeSantis, the first lady of Florida, who looked ahead at the empty stage from which she would soon speak. She was there in place of her husband, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was overseeing the response to Hurricane Idalia.

Several hours earlier, former Gov. Nikki Haley packed an event hall about 130 miles to the northeast. An overflow crowd spilled out into the back hallways, with some people having to watch her remarks on a video monitor.

The flurry of activity showed the priority these three campaigns are placing on South Carolina, where the Republican primary is traditionally the last chance for many White House hopefuls to break through before Super Tuesday. If former President Donald Trump maintains his front-runner status here and in the other early voting states, his path to the GOP nomination may be nearly impossible to stop.

In all but one primary since 1980, the Republican winner in South Carolina has gone on to be the party’s nominee.


Endangered red wolves need space to stay wild. But there’s another predator in the way — humans

ALLIGATOR RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, N.C. (AP) — Jeff Akin had to bite his tongue.

He was chatting with a neighbor about efforts to protect and grow the area’s red wolf population. The endangered wolves are equipped with bright orange radio collars to help locals distinguish the federally protected species from invasive, prolific coyotes.

“If I see one of those wolves with a collar on, I’m going to shoot it in the gut, so it runs off and dies," Akin says the neighbor told him. “Because if it dies near you, and they come out and find the collar, they can arrest you.”

Akin is a hunter and the walls of his country house are lined with photos of the animals he’s killed. But what he heard made him sick.

“I wouldn’t shoot a squirrel in the stomach if I was hungry,” he says. “It’s just not humane.”


The Rolling Stones will release their first studio album in 18 years, 'Hackney Diamonds'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The wait is over: The Rolling Stones will soon release new music.

On Monday, the band announced they are preparing to release their first album of original material in 18 years — since 2005's “A Bigger Bang.”

Titled “Hackney Diamonds,” the band will share details of the release at an event in East London's Hackney district on Wednesday, where Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood will be interviewed live by "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon.

The event will be livestreamed exclusively on YouTube on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. BST, 9:30 a.m. EST and 6:30 a.m. PST.

“Hackney may be at the heart of Hackney Diamonds, but this is a truly global moment we want to share with fans around the world via YouTube," the Rolling Stones shared in a statement.

The Associated Press