AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

After Maui officials named 388 people unaccounted for in fires, many called to say they're OK

HONOLULU (AP) — Within a day of Maui County releasing 388 names of people unaccounted for following the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century, more than 100 of them or their relatives came forward to say they're safe, the FBI said Friday.

The agency is reviewing the information they provided and working to remove the names from the list.

“We're very thankful for the people who have reached out by phone or email,” Steven Merrill, the FBI's special agent in charge in Honolulu, said in a news conference. “As we get someone off of a list, this has enabled us to devote more resources to those who are still on the list.”

Several people on the list told The Associated Press earlier in the day that they are alive and well, with a few also saying they were confused or frustrated to be on it. At least two others were among the victims of the fire — people who are known to have perished but have not yet been positively identified as deceased in the official tally, which currently stands at 115.

Arturo Gonzalez Hernandez wound up on the list even though he moved away from Lahaina, the historic seaside community demolished in the blaze, three years ago, and he called the FBI on Friday to provide his name and birthdate. An inaccurate list could cause unnecessary stress, he said.


Kremlin denies role in plane crash believed to have killed Russian mercenary leader Prigozhin

The Kremlin on Friday rejected allegations it was behind a plane crash that is presumed to have killed mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who conducted a brief but shocking mutiny in Russia two months ago.

Prigozhin, whose brutal fighters were feared in Ukraine, Africa and Syria, was eulogized Thursday by President Vladimir Putin, even as suspicions grew that the Russian leader was behind the crash that many saw as an assassination.

A preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment concluded the plane was downed by an intentional explosion. One of the U.S. and Western officials who described the assessment said it determined that Prigozhin was “very likely” targeted and that the explosion falls in line with Putin’s “long history of trying to silence his critics.”

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, did not offer any details on what caused the explosion, which was widely believed to be vengeance for the mutiny in June that posed the biggest challenge to Putin’s 23-year rule.

But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov flatly rejected the allegations.


Spain soccer head won't resign for kissing player at World Cup. Team won’t play until he goes

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Less than a week after winning the Women’s World Cup, Spain’s national team players announced Friday that they will not play any more games unless the president of the country's soccer federation steps down for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips after their victory.

Luis Rubiales, who was also chastised for grabbing his crotch after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday, remained defiant despite immense pressure to resign. The kiss marred the title celebrations in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, and criticism has steadily mounted.

Hermoso issued a statement Friday strongly rebuking Rubiales' characterization of the kiss as consensual, while the 46-year-old federation president cast himself as the victim at an emergency general assembly of the federation in Madrid.

“I won’t resign,” he declared four times in quick succession, to applause from the overwhelmingly male audience.

Several Spanish news media outlets reported on Thursday that Rubiales would step down. Instead, he said on Friday that he is the victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists.”


One image, one face, one American moment: The Donald Trump mug shot

A camera clicks. In a fraction of a second, the shutter opens and then closes, freezing forever the image in front of it.

When the camera shutter blinked inside an Atlanta jail on Thursday, it both created and documented a tiny inflection point in American life. Captured for posterity, there was a former president of the United States, for the first time in history, under arrest and captured in the sort of frame more commonly associated with drug dealers or drunken drivers. The trappings of power gone, for that split second.

Left behind: an enduring image that will appear in history books long after Donald Trump is gone.

“It will be forever part of the iconography of being alive in this time,” said Marty Kaplan, a professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communications.

In the photo, Trump confronts the camera in front of a bland gray backdrop, his eyes meeting the lens in an intense glare. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt and red tie, his shoulders squared, his head tilted slightly toward the camera. The sheriff's logo has been digitally added above his right shoulder.


7 tornadoes confirmed as Michigan storms down trees and power lines; 5 people killed

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — At least seven tornadoes touched down in Michigan as part of severe storms powered by strong winds that killed five people, while downing trees, tearing roofs off buildings and leaving hundreds of thousands of customers without power, officials said.

The National Weather Service on Friday said an EF-2 tornado with a maximum wind speed of 125 mph (201 kilometers per hour) struck Lansing, the state capital, killing one person Thursday night and injuring three others.

Lansing Police Department spokesperson Jordan Gulkis said an 84-year-old woman died after a tree fell on a home. Firefighters extricated the woman from the home, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The weather service also confirmed that an EF-1 tornado with winds of 90 mph (145 kph) crossed from Ingham County into the western edge of adjacent Livingston County on Thursday night.

Four other EF-1 tornadoes were reported in Belleville and Gibraltar in Wayne County, and in South Rockwood and near Newport in Monroe County.


Rulings in Texas, Missouri jumble again where US transgender youth can receive treatment

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A judge on Friday ruled against Texas' ban on gender-affirming health care for minors while a separate judge in Missouri let a similar ban take effect, jumbling again where in the U.S. transgender youth can receive treatment.

The conflicting decisions, handed down hours apart in two Republican-led states, added to the legal unpredictability that is unfolding nationwide over a historic wave of new laws this year that target LGBTQ+ rights.

Underscoring the fast-changing landscape, Texas swiftly appealed to keep its new restrictions on track to take effect Sept. 1, when it would become the largest state in the U.S. to enforce a ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

“Across the country, countless transgender youth are having their well-being threatened and their lives uprooted by dangerous and unconstitutional bans,” said Elizabeth Gill, an attorney for the ACLU, which represented families and doctors challenging the Texas ban.

More than 20 states have adopted laws to ban some gender-affirming care for minors, although some are not yet in effect or have been put on hold by courts. Many of them prevent transgender minors from accessing hormone therapies, puberty blockers and transition surgeries, even though medical experts say such surgical procedures are rarely performed on children.


In Iowa and elsewhere, bans on LGBTQ+ ‘conversion therapy’ become a conservative target

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — One of Iowa's largest cities repealed its ban on “conversion therapy” — the discredited practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through counseling — after a Christian organization threatened legal action, part of a deepening national movement to challenge protections for LGBTQ+ kids.

The city council in Waterloo voted this week to remove its restrictions after Liberty Counsel warned in a letter June 30 that it would “take further action” if the city did not repeal the ordinance by August 1. It was enacted in May.

The organization, which is based in Orlando, Florida, argued the ordinance infringes on the constitutional right to free speech and acted on behalf of a therapist in Waterloo “who was concerned about the implications of this on the practice of counseling," Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel founder and chair, said in an interview in which he promised further litigation targeting states.

In Iowa and across the country, efforts are spreading to curb the rights of LGBTQ+ kids and adopt restrictions on gender and sexuality in classrooms, youth sports and medicine. In recent years, local bans on conversion therapy in Florida also fell with the help of Liberty Counsel, which describes itself as a Christian ministry that is “restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family.”

Such therapy has been discredited and is opposed by, among others, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, citing research that shows it leads to increased risk of suicide and depression.


Alabama wants to be the 1st state to execute a prisoner by making him breathe only nitrogen

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama is seeking to become the first state to execute a prisoner by making him breathe pure nitrogen.

The Alabama attorney general’s office on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to set an execution date for death row inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith, 58. The court filing indicated Alabama plans to put him to death by nitrogen hypoxia, an execution method that is authorized in three states but has never been used.

Nitrogen hypoxia is caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, depriving them of oxygen and causing them to die. Nitrogen makes up 78% of the air inhaled by humans and is harmless when inhaled with oxygen. While proponents of the new method have theorized it would be painless, opponents have likened it to human experimentation.

Alabama authorized nitrogen hypoxia in 2018 amid a shortage of drugs used to carry out lethal injections, but the state has not attempted to use it until now to carry out a death sentence. Oklahoma and Mississippi have also authorized nitrogen hypoxia, but have not used it.

The disclosure that Alabama is ready to use nitrogen hypoxia is expected to set off a new round of legal battles over the constitutionality of the method.


Bronny James has a congenital heart defect that caused his cardiac arrest, a spokesperson says

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bronny James went into cardiac arrest during a basketball workout at the University of Southern California last month because of a congenital heart defect, according to a family spokeswoman.

The 18-year-old son of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was stricken on July 24. He was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and later was seen by doctors at the Mayo Clinic and Atlantic Health-Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.

A statement issued Friday by Stephanie Rosa of the LeBron James Family Foundation said the probable cause of James' sudden cardiac arrest has been identified.

“It is an anatomically and functionally significant Congenital Heart Defect which can and will be treated,” the statement said. “We are very confident in Bronny’s full recovery and return to basketball in the very near future.”

The younger James was released from Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles three days after the incident at USC's Galen Center. The following night he dined out in Santa Monica with his family.


The return of Simone Biles and Sunisa Lee is a boon for US gymnastics. It's created a logjam, too

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Joscelyn Roberson's always had her eye on the 2024 Olympics. The math just sort of worked.

The Texan is going to be 18 next summer, an age long considered an athletic sweet spot for elite female gymnasts, at least in the United States.

Each of the six American women to become the Olympic all-around champion — from Mary Lou Retton in 1984 to Simone Biles in 2016 to Sunisa Lee in Tokyo in 2021 — were teenagers when gold medals were placed around their necks.

So yeah, Roberson watched the end of the pandemic-delayed 2020 games and let her mind wander to what may loom for her in Paris. She knew she'd be old enough to compete. She figured a significant portion of the 2020 women's team would move on to the next phase of their lives, ceding the spotlight to the next wave of elites.

For quadrennium after quadrennium, that's typically how things worked. Not in 2023.

The Associated Press