Idalia strengthens over warm Gulf of Mexico waters as it steams toward Florida
CEDAR KEY, Fla. (AP) — Florida residents living in vulnerable coastal areas were ordered to pack up and leave Tuesday as Hurricane Idalia gained steam in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and threatened to unleash life-threatening storm surges and rainfall.
Idalia also pummeled Cuba with heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday, leaving the tobacco-growing province of Pinar del Rio underwater and many of its residents without power.
Idalia had strengthened to a Category 2 system on Tuesday afternoon, with winds strengthening to 105 mph (165 kph) by Tuesday evening. The hurricane was projected to come ashore early Wednesday as a Category 3 system with sustained winds of up to 120 mph (193 kph) in the lightly populated Big Bend region, where the Florida Panhandle curves into the peninsula. The result could be a big blow to a state still dealing with lingering damage from last year’s Hurricane Ian.
The National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Idalia “an unprecedented event” since no major hurricanes on record have ever passed through the bay abutting the Big Bend.
On the island of Cedar Key, Commissioner Sue Colson joined other city officials in packing up documents and electronics at City Hall. She had a message for the almost 900 residents who were under mandatory orders to evacuate. More than a dozen state troopers went door to door warning residents that storm surge could rise as high as 15 feet (4.5 meters).
6 regions targeted in biggest drone attack on Russia since it sent troops to Ukraine, officials say
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian officials accused Ukraine of targeting six Russian regions early Wednesday in what appeared to be the biggest drone attack on Russian soil since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine 18 months ago.
Drones hit an airport in the western Pskov region and started a massive fire there, the governor and local media reported. More drones were shot down over Oryol, Bryansk, Ryazan, Kaluga and the Moscow region surrounding the Russian capital, according to the Defense Ministry.
The strike in Pskov, which was first reported minutes before midnight, hit an airport in the region's namesake capital and damaged four Il-76 transport aircraft, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported, citing emergency officials.
Pskov regional Gov. Mikhail Vedernikov ordered all flights to and from the airport canceled Wednesday so damage could be assessed during daylight.
Footage and images posted on social media showed smoke billowing over the city of Pskov and a large blaze. Vedernikov said there were no casualties, and the fire has been contained. Unconfirmed media reports said between 10 and 20 drones could have attacked the airport.
Unclear how many in Lahaina lost lives as Hawaii authorities near the end of their search for dead
HONOLULU (AP) — Crews in Hawaii have all but finished searching for victims of the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century, authorities said Tuesday, and it is unclear how many people perished.
Three weeks after the fire devastated Maui’s historic seaside community of Lahaina, the count of the dead stands at 115. But an unknown number of people are still missing.
Officials suggested that responders likely have already recovered any remains that are recognizable as such, and they are shifting the response to focus on removing hazardous waste and making the area safe for residents to begin returning.
“We have wrapped up almost completely the search and recovery mission and moving into the next phase," Darryl Oliveira, the interim administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, said at a news conference.
The next phase would be hazardous waste removal conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he said.
University of North Carolina graduate student left building right after killing adviser, police say
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — A University of North Carolina graduate student walked into a classroom building, shot his faculty adviser and quickly left, authorities said a day after the attack paralyzed campus as police searched for the gunman.
Tailei Qi, 34, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and having a gun on educational property in Monday’s killing of Zijie Yan inside a science building at the state’s flagship public university.
Chapel Hill police arrested Qi without force in a residential neighborhood near campus within two hours of the attack, UNC Police Chief Brian James said at a news conference.
Investigators were trying to determine a motive and searching for the gun, James said. He declined to specify where in Caudill Labs Yan was killed, saying officers are still looking at evidence. Qi was already gone when a team of officers reached the building, James said.
Yan was "a beloved colleague, mentor and a friend of so many on our campus and a father to two young children,” UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz at the news conference.
10 drugs targeted for Medicare price negotiations as Biden pitches cost reductions
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden touted the potential cost savings of Medicare's first-ever price negotiations for widely used prescription drugs on Tuesday as he struggles to convince Americans that he’s improved their lives as he runs for reelection.
The drugs include the blood thinner Eliquis, diabetes treatment Jardiance and eight other medications. The negotiation process was authorized under the Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed last year, capping decades of debate over whether the federal government should be allowed to haggle with pharmaceutical companies.
Any lower prices won't take effect for three years, and the path forward could be further complicated by litigation from drugmakers and heavy criticism from Republicans.
But the effort is a centerpiece of Biden's reelection pitch as the Democrat tries to show Americans he's deserving of a second term because of the work he's doing to lower costs while the country is struggling with inflation. The drug negotiations, like many of Biden's biggest policy moves, will take time to play out, and his challenge is to persuade the public to be patient.
“For all of you out there, I get it, and millions of Americans get it,” Biden said at the White House. “I promise you. I’m going to have your back and I’ll never stop fighting for you on this issue."
HBCU president lauds students, officer for stopping Jacksonville killer before racist store attack
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A campus security officer tipped off by observant students likely stopped the killer who fatally shot three people at a nearby Dollar General Store from carrying out his racist attack at Edward Waters University, the president of the historically Black institution said Monday.
Students reported seeing a young, white man, pull into a campus library parking lot in Jacksonville, Florida, and begin putting on tactical gear Saturday, Edward Waters University President Zachary Faison Jr. said. They immediately flagged down a security officer who was on patrol to tell them what they saw.
The officer approached the car on foot when the driver — who would later be identified as the shooter at the store — sped off, hitting a curb and narrowly avoiding a brick column, Faison said. The campus officer, who the campus president called a hero, then called the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and shared the description of the vehicle.
Minutes later, the gunman made his way to a Dollar General Store down the road and killed Angela Michelle Carr, 52, an Uber driver who was shot in her car; store employee A.J. Laguerre, 19, who was shot as he tried to flee; and customer Jerrald Gallion, 29, who was shot as he entered the store in the predominantly Black New Town neighborhood. The gunman killed himself after the murders.
“It’s not just on a whim that he chose to come to Florida’s first historically Black college or university,” said Faison, who expressed condolences to the families of the victims and confirmed none were part of the university.
Guatemala's president-elect faces legal challenges that seek to weaken him. Here's what's happening
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala’s Aug. 20 presidential election has been bogged down in court and legal challenges despite the fact the results were clear: Progressive candidate Bernardo Arévalo won about 61% of the vote to conservative Sandra Torres’ 39%. After weeks of uncertainty, the top electoral court finally certified Arévalo as the winner Monday.
But federal prosecutors are seeking to suspend his party, throwing into doubt whether he will have any support in congress. And Torres has filed court challenges seeking to overturn the election result, alleging fraud in the vote count — something none of the independent election observer groups reported.
How did it get so complicated?
Governmental corruption and impunity was so bad in Guatemala that in 2006 the country had to call in a United Nations-backed commission, known as CICIG, to combat it.
The commission's work led to some serious results: In 2015, Guatemala became one of the few countries in the world to force a sitting president, Otto Pérez Molina, to resign and immediately go to jail, along with his vice president.
Lawyers indicted with Trump say they were doing their jobs. But that may be a tough argument to make
WASHINGTON (AP) — As John Eastman prepared to surrender to Georgia authorities last week for an indictment related to efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, he issued a statement denouncing the criminal case as targeting attorneys "for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients.”
Another defendant, Rudy Giuliani, struck a similar note, saying he was being indicted for his work as Donald Trump's attorney. “I never thought I'd get indicted for being a lawyer,” he lamented.
The 18 defendants charged alongside Trump in this month's racketeering indictment in Fulton County include more than a half-dozen lawyers, and the statements from Eastman and Giuliani provide early foreshadowing of at least one of the defenses they seem poised to raise: that they were merely doing their jobs as attorneys when they maneuvered on Trump's behalf to undo the results of that election.
The argument suggests a desire to turn at least part of the sprawling prosecution into a referendum on the boundaries of ethical lawyering in a case that highlights anew how Trump's own attorneys have become entangled over the years in his own legal problems.
But while attorneys do have wide berth to advance untested or unconventional positions, experts say a “lawyers being lawyers” defense will be challenging to pull off to the extent prosecutors can directly link the indicted lawyers to criminal schemes alleged in the indictment. That includes efforts to line up fake electors in Georgia and other states who would falsely assert that Trump, not Democrat Joe Biden, had won their respective contests.
'Breaking Bad' stars reunite on picket line to call for studios to resume negotiations with actors
CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) — The cast of “Breaking Bad” has reunited to call upon Hollywood studios to resume negotiations with striking screen actors.
“We want you to come back to the table with us,” Bryan Cranston said in a plea to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers outside Sony Pictures Studios on Tuesday.
Cranston was joined by Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons and other members of the “Breaking Bad” universe in an effort to energize picket lines more than a month after SAG-AFTRA joined striking Hollywood writers.
Both guilds are seeking to address issues brought about by the dominance of streaming services, which have changed all aspects of production and pay in the industry.
“The way things were structured 10 years ago made a lot of sense and it made it more possible for journeymen-type actors, actors in the middle that are working just as a hard or harder,” Plemons said.
A new Titanic expedition is planned. The US is fighting it, says wreck is a grave site
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The U.S. government is trying to stop a planned expedition to recover items of historical interest from the sunken Titanic, citing a federal law and an international agreement that treat the shipwreck as a hallowed gravesite.
The expedition is being organized by RMS Titanic Inc., the Georgia-based firm that owns the salvage rights to the world’s most famous shipwreck. The company exhibits artifacts that have been recovered from the wreck site at the bottom of the North Atlantic, from silverware to a piece of the Titanic's hull.
The government's challenge comes more than two months after the Titan submersible imploded near the sunken ocean liner, killing five people. But this legal fight has nothing to do with the June tragedy, which involved a different company and an unconventionally designed vessel.
The battle in the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, which oversees Titanic salvage matters, hinges instead on federal law and a pact with Great Britain to treat the sunken Titanic as a memorial to the more than 1,500 people who died. The ship hit an iceberg and sank in 1912.
The U.S. argues that entering the Titanic's severed hull — or physically altering or disturbing the wreck — is regulated by federal law and its agreement with Britain. Among the government's concerns is the possible disturbance of artifacts and any human remains that may still exist.
The Associated Press