First of thousands of Lahaina residents return to homes destroyed by deadly wildfire
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — The first of thousands of residents who lost their homes in the wildfire that destroyed the Hawaii town of Lahaina returned to their devastated properties Monday, with some stopping for a moment of reflection and others searching for mementos among the ruins.
“They’re very appreciative to get in here, something they’ve all been waiting anxiously for,” Darryl Oliveira, interim administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, told reporters gathered outside the burn zone. “People who haven’t been here since the fire are taken aback by the amount of and extent of the destruction.”
In the days following the Aug. 8 wildfire, some people were able to return to their properties to evaluate the damage. But since then, the burned area has been off-limits to all but authorized workers. Authorities opened one small part of it on Monday, allowing residents in for supervised visits from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. By midday, about two dozen vehicles carrying residents had entered the area.
The prospect of returning has stirred strong emotions in residents who fled in vehicles or on foot as wind-whipped flames raced across Lahaina, the historic capital of the former Hawaiian kingdom, and overcame people stuck in traffic trying to escape.
The wildfire killed at least 97 people and destroyed more than 2,000 buildings, most of them homes. Some survivors jumped over a sea wall and sheltered in the waves as hot black smoke blotted out the sun.
Screenwriters wait to learn terms of deal with Hollywood studios to end historic strike
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Screenwriters waited Monday to learn what their five-month strike won and prepared for a possible return to work after their union reached an agreement with studio executives that could help end the walkouts that brought Hollywood to a standstill.
The historic shutdown will go on for now, with actors remaining on strike and no talks planned, though the tentative deal announced Sunday night may provide momentum that could lead to a resolution for them too. That would allow full production to resume for the first time since May.
The governing boards of the two branches of the Writers Guild of America are likely to vote on the contract Tuesday. With their approval, writers will then vote on the deal, and the strike can officially end. Network shows including NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” could return to the air within days.
Details of the agreement have not yet been made public or even shared with the writers themselves because the contract language is being finalized. But the WGA said in an email to members that the deal was “exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.”
The 11,500 screenwriters walked off the job May 2 over issues of pay, the size of writing staffs and control of the use of artificial intelligence in scripts.
7 candidates have qualified for the 2nd Republican presidential debate. Here's who missed the cut
The field for the second Republican presidential debate will be smaller than the first.
Seven candidates have qualified for Wednesday night's debate at Ronald Reagan's presidential library in California, the Republican National Committee said, confirming that former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not make the cut this time.
Former President Donald Trump, the early Republican presidential front-runner who skipped the first debate, will also be missing from the stage and will instead hold events in the battleground state of Michigan.
To qualify for the second debate, candidates needed at least 3% support in two national polls or 3% in one national poll as well as two polls from four of the early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
The White House hopefuls also needed at least 50,000 unique donors, with at least 200 of those coming from 20 states or territories. They also had to sign an RNC pledge promising to support the party's eventual nominee.
Trump argues First Amendment protects him from 'insurrection' cases aimed at keeping him off ballot
DENVER (AP) — Attorneys for former President Donald Trump argue that an attempt to bar him from the 2024 ballot under a rarely used “insurrection” clause of the Constitution should be dismissed as a violation of his freedom of speech.
The lawyers made the argument in a filing posted Monday by a Colorado court in one of the most significant of a series of challenges to Trump's candidacy under the Civil War-era clause in the 14th Amendment. The challenges rest on Trump's attempts to overturn his 2020 loss to Democrat Joe Biden and his role leading up to the violent Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“At no time do Petitioners argue that President Trump did anything other than engage in either speaking or refusing to speak for their argument that he engaged in the purported insurrection,” wrote attorney Geoffrey Blue.
Trump also will argue that the clause doesn't apply to him because “the Fourteenth Amendment applies to one who ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion,’ not one who only ‘instigated’ any action,” Blue wrote.
The former president's lawyers also said the challenge should be dismissed because he is not yet a candidate under the meaning of Colorado election law, which they contend isn't intended to settle constitutional disputes.
Democratic Sen. Menendez rejects calls to resign and says cash found in home was not bribe proceeds
UNION CITY, N.J. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey defiantly pushed back against federal corruption charges on Monday, saying nearly half a million dollars in cash authorities found in his home was from his personal savings, not from bribes, and was on hand for emergencies.
Rejecting rising calls for him to resign, the influential chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he believed he'd be cleared of charges that he took cash and gold in illegal exchange for helping Egypt and New Jersey business associates.
“I recognize this will be the biggest fight yet, but as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator," Menendez said at Hudson County Community College's campus in Union City, where he grew up.
He did not respond to questions and did not say whether he would seek reelection next year.
Addressing allegations in the indictment unsealed Friday that authorities found cash stuffed in envelopes and clothing at his home, Menendez said that stemmed from his parents' fear of confiscation of funds from their time in Cuba.
Why the US job market has defied rising interest rates and expectations of high unemployment
WASHINGTON (AP) — Last year's spike in inflation, to the highest level in four decades, was painful enough for American households. Yet the cure — much higher interest rates, to cool spending and hiring — was expected to bring even more pain.
Grim forecasts from economists had predicted that as the Federal Reserve jacked up its benchmark rate ever higher, consumers and businesses would curb spending, companies would slash jobs and unemployment would spike as high as 7% or more — twice its level when the Fed began tightening credit.
Yet so far, to widespread relief, the reality has been anything but: As interest rates have surged, inflation has tumbled from its peak of 9.1% in June 2022 to 3.7%. Yet the unemployment rate, at a still-low 3.8%, has scarcely budged since March 2022, when the Fed began imposing a series of 11 rate hikes at the fastest pace in decades.
If such trends continue, the central bank may achieve a rare and difficult “soft landing” — the taming of inflation without triggering a deep recession. Such an outcome would be far different from the last time inflation spiked, in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Fed chair at the time, Paul Volcker, attacked inflation by escalating the central bank's key short-term rate above 19%. The result? Unemployment shot to 10.8%, which at the time marked its highest level since World War II.
A year ago, in a high-profile speech, Chair Jerome Powell warned that the Fed was prepared to be similarly aggressive, saying its rate hikes would cause “some pain” in the form of higher unemployment. The Fed, Powell said pointedly, would “keep at it,” a play on the title of Volcker's autobiography, “Keeping At It.”
More schools are adopting 4-day weeks. For parents, the challenge is day 5
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — It's a Monday in September, but with schools closed, the three children in the Pruente household have nowhere to be. Callahan, 13, contorts herself into a backbend as 7-year-old Hudson fiddles with a balloon and 10-year-old Keegan plays the piano.
Like a growing number of students around the U.S., the Pruente children are on a four-day school schedule, a change instituted this fall by their district in Independence, Missouri.
To the kids, it's terrific. “I have a three-day break of school!” exclaimed Hudson.
But their mom, Brandi Pruente, who teaches French in a neighboring district in suburban Kansas City, is frustrated to find herself hunting for activities to keep her kids entertained and off electronics while she works five days a week.
“I feel like I’m back in the COVID shutdown,” she said.
Experimental treatment pushed by ALS patients gets day before FDA, but agency unconvinced it works
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration meets this week to consider approval of an experimental treatment for Lou Gehrig’s disease, the culmination of a yearslong lobbying effort by patients with the fatal neurodegenerative disease.
Those advocates still face one giant hurdle: FDA regulators say the treatment hasn't been shown to work.
In documents posted Monday, the FDA reiterated its longstanding position that a lone study by drugmaker Brainstorm doesn't provide convincing evidence that its stem cell-based therapy helps patients with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
It’s the same message the FDA delivered to company executives in early 2021 when they first shared data on the treatment, dubbed NurOwn. And again last November, when the FDA refused to accept the company’s application for review.
But with the backing of thousands of ALS patients, Brainstorm took the rare step of “filing over protest,” essentially forcing the agency to render a decision.
We carry DNA from extinct cousins like Neanderthals. Science is now revealing their genetic legacy
Neanderthals live on within us.
These ancient human cousins, and others called Denisovans, once lived alongside our early Homo sapiens ancestors. They mingled and had children. So some of who they were never went away — it's in our genes. And science is starting to reveal just how much that shapes us.
Using the new and rapidly improving ability to piece together fragments of ancient DNA, scientists are finding that traits inherited from our ancient cousins are still with us now, affecting our fertility, our immune systems, even how our bodies handled the COVID-19 virus.
“We’re now carrying the genetic legacies and learning about what that means for our bodies and our health,” said Mary Prendergast, a Rice University archeologist.
In the past few months alone, researchers have linked Neanderthal DNA to a serious hand disease, the shape of people's noses and various other human traits. They even inserted a gene carried by Neanderthals and Denisovans into mice to investigate its effects on biology, and found it gave them larger heads and an extra rib.
After summer's extreme weather, more Americans see climate change as a culprit, AP-NORC poll shows
Kathleen Maxwell has lived in Phoenix for more than 20 years, but this summer was the first time she felt fear, as daily high temperatures soared to 110 degrees or hotter and kept it up for a record-shattering 31 consecutive days.
“It's always been really hot here, but nothing like this past summer,” said Maxwell, 50, who last week opened her windows for the first time since March and walked her dog outdoors for the first time since May. “I was seriously scared. Like, what if this doesn't end and this is how it's going to be?”
Maxwell blames climate change, and she's not alone.
New polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicates that extreme weather, including a summer that brought dangerous heat for much of the United States, is bolstering Americans' belief that they've personally felt the impact of climate change.
About 9 in 10 Americans (87%) say they have experienced at least one extreme weather event in the past five years — including drought, extreme heat, severe storms, wildfires or flooding — up from 79% who said that just a few months ago in April. And about three-quarters of those believe climate change is at least partly to blame.
The Associated Press