City empties as thousands flee wildfire burning near capital of Canada's Northwest Territories
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Residents heeded warnings to evacuate the capital of Canada's Northwest Territories as a large wildfire burned just miles outside the city of 20,000 Friday, while firefighters in battled a growing fire that set homes ablaze in a city in British Columbia.
Thousands of people in Yellowknife drove hundreds of kilometers (miles) to safety, with authorities guiding motorists through fire zones, while others waited in long lines lines for emergency flights as the worst fire season on record in Canada showed no signs of easing.
Airtankers flew missions to keep the only route out of Yellowknife open. Meanwhile, a network of fire guards, sprinklers and water cannons was established to try to protect the city from the fire.
Fire Information Officer Mike Westwick told The Associated Press by phone Friday evening that the fire did not advance Friday and was still 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of the the city, partly because cooler temperatures created less fire activity and cleared some smoke, allowing air tankers to safely fly and drop fire retardant.
Even so, “we’ve got the wrong kind of wind" in the forecast — gusty and from the west and northwest — and no rain, Westwick warned.
Powerful Hurricane Hilary heads for Mexico's Baja. Rare tropical storm watch issued for California
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Hilary churned off Mexico's Pacific coast Friday as a powerful Category 4 storm threatening to unleash torrential rains on the mudslide-prone border city of Tijuana before heading into Southern California as the first tropical storm there in 84 years.
Forecasters warned the storm could cause extreme flooding, mudslides and even tornadoes across the region.
Hilary grew rapidly in strength early Friday before losing some steam, with its maximum sustained winds clocked at 130 mph (215 kph) in the evening, after falling from 145 mph (230 kph). Nevertheless, it was forecast to still be a hurricane when approaching Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Saturday night and a tropical storm when approaching Southern California on Sunday.
Hilary was already disrupting life.
Major League Baseball rescheduled three Sunday games in Southern California, moving them to Saturday as part of split-doubleheaders. The National Park Service closed Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve to keep people from becoming stranded amid flooding. Cities across the region, including in Arizona, were offering sandbags to safeguard properties against floodwaters.
FEMA has paid out more than $5.6 million to Maui survivors, a figure expected to grow significantly
NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday it has approved more than $5.6 million in assistance to nearly 2,000 households in Maui so far as the federal government tries to help survivors of the devastating wildfires.
The White House and FEMA approved a one-time payment of $700 per household for needs like clothing, food, or transportation. The agency will also pay to put survivors up in hotels and motels and says it has paid out $1.6 million in rental assistance as of Friday.
The amounts are expected to grow significantly. Estimates are that thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed in the fire, which consumed much of historic community of Lahaina. In the wake of the Northern California wildfire in 2018, which decimated the city of Paradise, FEMA paid out $238 million in assistance.
FEMA said Wednesday that it will open a disaster recovery center in Maui in order to better and more quickly facilitate the distribution of aid.
Survivors need to register with FEMA to be eligible for the payout and other assistance. Roughly 4,400 Hawaii fire survivors have applied for so-called critical need assistance as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Jeremy M. Edwards, press secretary for FEMA.
US, Japan and South Korea agree to expand security ties at summit amid China, North Korea worries
CAMP DAVID, Md. (AP) — President Joe Biden and the leaders of Japan and South Korea agreed Friday to expand security and economic ties at a historic summit at the U.S. presidential retreat of Camp David, cementing a new agreement with the allies that are on an increasingly tense ledge in relations with China and North Korea.
Biden said the nations would establish a communications hotline to discuss responses to threats. He announced the agreements, including what the leaders termed the “Camp David Principles,” at the close of his talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“Our countries are stronger and the world will be safer as we stand together. And I know this is a belief that all three share,” Biden said
“The purpose of our trilateral security cooperation is and will remain to promote and enhance peace and stability throughout the region,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
Biden maintained, as have US, South Korean and Japanese officials, that the summit “was not about China” but was focused on broader security issues. Yet, the leaders in their joint summit concluding statement noted China's “dangerous and aggressive" action in the South China Sea and said they “strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the waters of the Indo-Pacific.”
Michael Jackson sexual abuse lawsuits revived by appeals court
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California appeals court on Friday revived lawsuits from two men who allege Michael Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were boys.
A three-judge panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the lawsuits of Wade Robson and James Safechuck should not have been dismissed by a lower court, and that the men can validly claim that the two Jackson-owned corporations that were named as defendants in the cases had a responsibility to protect them. A new California law that temporarily broadened the scope of sexual abuse cases enabled the appeals court to restore them.
It's the second time the lawsuits — brought by Robson in 2013 and Safechuck the following year — have been brought back after dismissal. The two men became more widely known for telling their stories in the 2019 HBO documentary “ Leaving Neverland.”
A judge who dismissed the suits in 2021 found that the corporations, MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc., could not be expected to function like the Boy Scouts or a church where a child in their care could expect their protection. Jackson, who died in 2009, was the sole owner and only shareholder in the companies.
The higher court judges disagreed, writing that “a corporation that facilitates the sexual abuse of children by one of its employees is not excused from an affirmative duty to protect those children merely because it is solely owned by the perpetrator of the abuse.”
Proud Boy on house arrest in Jan. 6 case disappears ahead of sentencing
WASHINGTON (AP) — Authorities are searching for a member of the Proud Boys extremist group who disappeared days before his sentencing in a U.S. Capitol riot case, where prosecutors are seeking more than a decade in prison, according to a warrant made public Friday.
Christopher Worrell, 52, of Naples, Florida, was supposed to be sentenced Friday after being found guilty of spraying pepper spray gel on police officers, as part of the mob storming the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory on Jan. 6, 2021. Prosecutors had asked a judge to sentence him to 14 years.
The sentencing was canceled and a bench warrant for his arrest issued under seal on Tuesday, according to court records. The U.S. attorney’s office for Washington, D.C., encouraged the public to share any information about his whereabouts.
Worrell had been on house arrest in Florida since his release from jail in Washington in November 2021, less than a month after a judge substantiated his civil-rights complaints about his treatment in the jail.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth found Worrell’s medical care for a broken hand had been delayed, and held D.C. jail officials in contempt of court.
George Santos says ex-fundraiser caught using a fake name tried a new tactic: spelling it backwards
NEW YORK (AP) — When the invitation to lunch at the Empire State Building first arrived last summer, some of George Santos’ campaign staffers were wary.
The sender described himself as a deep-pocketed donor, eager to max out his contribution to the Republican congressional candidate. He signed the email Reyem Nad, an unfamiliar name in fundraising circles.
Within minutes, Santos says he discovered the truth: The message was from Sam Miele, a former fundraiser who had been fired from the campaign months earlier after he was caught soliciting donations under the alias Dan Meyer, then the chief of staff to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who at the time was the Republican minority leader.
Santos said he interpreted the lunch invitation as an attempt by Miele to get a face-to-face meeting — one he could not get if he used his own name — where he could ask to rejoin the campaign.
“We realized, ’Oh ... Reyem Nad is Dan Meyer spelled backwards,” Santos told The Associated Press on Friday, using an expletive to emphasize his surprise. “My staffers called the restaurant and figured out it was Sam.”
Stem cells from one eye show promise in healing injuries in the other
Phil Durst recalled clawing at his face after a chemical from a commercial dishwashing machine squirted into his eyes, causing “the most indescribable pain I’ve ever felt — ever, ever, ever.”
His left eye bore the brunt of the 2017 work accident, which stole his vision, left him unable to tolerate light and triggered four to five cluster headaches a day.
Then he underwent an experimental procedure that aims to treat severe injuries in one eye with stem cells from the other.
“I went from completely blind with debilitating headaches and pondering if I could go another day — like really thinking I can’t do this anymore" to seeing well enough to drive and emerging from dark places literally and figuratively, he said, choking up.
The 51-year-old from Homewood, Alabama, was one of four patients to get stem cell transplants as part of the first U.S. study to test the technique, which could someday help thousands. Though additional treatment is sometimes needed, experts say the stem cell transplant offers hope to people with few if any other options.
San Francisco launches driverless bus service following robotaxi expansion
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — First came the robotaxis. Then the driverless buses arrived.
San Francisco has launched an autonomous shuttle service -- less than a week after California regulators approved the expansion of robotaxis despite traffic and safety concerns.
The free shuttle will run daily in a fixed route called the Loop around Treasure Island, the site of a former U.S. Navy base in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The Loop makes seven stops, connecting residential neighborhoods with stores and community centers. About 2,000 people live on the island.
The all-electric vehicle, which doesn’t have a driver’s seat or steering wheel, is staffed with an attendant who can drive the bus with a handheld controller if necessary. The county is offering the shuttle service as part of a grant-funded pilot program to assess how autonomous vehicles can supplement the public transit system.
“Having the attendant on board makes everyone feel comfortable,” said Tilly Chang, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. “This is just a demonstration for now to see, what does it look like and how does it work to have a driverless shuttle in a low-volume, low-speed environment?”
A neonatal nurse in a British hospital has been found guilty of killing 7 babies
LONDON (AP) — A neonatal nurse in a British hospital was found guilty Friday of murdering seven babies and trying to kill six others during a yearlong campaign of deception that saw her prey on the vulnerabilities of sick newborns and their anxious parents.
Following 22 days of deliberation, the jury at Manchester Crown Court convicted 33-year-old Lucy Letby of killing the babies, including two triplet boys, in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England between June 2015 and June 2016. She will be sentenced on Monday.
“Parents were exposed to her morbid curiosity and her fake compassion,” said senior prosecutor Pascale Jones. “Too many of them returned home to empty baby rooms. Many surviving children live with permanent consequences of her assaults upon their lives.”
Her attacks, Jones said, were “a complete betrayal of the trust placed in her.”
Families of the victims said they will “forever be grateful” to jurors who since last October had to sit through 145 days of “grueling” evidence.
The Associated Press