August 11, 2023
At least 55 people died on Maui. Residents had little warning before wildfires overtook a town
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Hawaii emergency management records show no indication that warning sirens sounded before people ran for their lives from wildfires on Maui that killed at least 55 people. Instead, officials sent alerts to mobile phones, televisions and radio stations. But widespread power and cellular outages may have limited their reach. Hawaii boasts what the state describes as the largest integrated outdoor all-hazard public safety warning system in the world. But many of survivors said in interviews Thursday that they didn’t hear any sirens or receive a warning that gave them enough time to prepare. Meanwhile, Gov. Josh Green says Lahaina residents will be allowed to return home Friday to check on their property. Large swaths of the historic town burned.
As flames swallowed Maui, survivors made harrowing escapes
Harrowing stories of survival are spreading from those who fled Maui’s voracious fires. At least 55 people have been killed in the blazes; thousands of others are telling of narrow escapes. Among them is Marlon Vasquez, a 31-year-old cook from Guatemala who was building a new life on the island. He says he ran for what felt like an eternity, watching a hellscape unfurl around him. Roads clogged with cars. People dove into the Pacific. At one point, the flames chased him as strong winds blew flames down a mountainside. The air was so black he vomited.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints a special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe, deepening the investigation of the president’s son ahead of the 2024 election. Garland said Friday he was naming as the special counsel David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware. Weiss has been probing the financial and business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son. The move is a stunning development from the typically cautious Garland and comes during a pair of sweeping Justice Department probes into former President Donald Trump. The newly appointed special counsel says plea deal talks have broken down in the Hunter Biden tax and gun case. Hunter Biden’s attorney hasn’t returned messages seeking comment.
Tensions rise as West African nations prepare to send troops to restore democracy in Niger
NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Tensions are escalating between Niger’s new military regime and the West African regional bloc that has ordered troops deployed to restore Niger’s flailing democracy. ECOWAS said it had directed a “standby force” to restore constitutional order in Niger after its Sunday deadline to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum expired. The announcement came hours after two Western officials told The Associated Press that Niger’s junta had said they would kill Bazoum if neighboring countries attempted any military intervention. It’s unclear when or where the force will deploy and which countries would contribute to it. It would likely comprise some 5,000 troops, mostly led by Nigeria, and could be ready within weeks.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried jailed in New York; judge says crypto mogul tampered with witnesses
NEW YORK (AP) — FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been sent to jail after a bail hearing in New York City. Federal Judge Lewis A. Kaplan issued the order Friday. Prosecutors pushed for his incarceration. His lawyers insisted he shouldn’t be jailed for trying to protect his reputation. The 31-year-old onetime crypto whiz has been living at his parent’s California home since his December extradition from the Bahamas. He was staying at home to comply with a $250 million bail package severely restricting his internet and phone usage. Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried tried to harass a key government witness. His lawyers say he did not. The judge agreed that he had.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says he’s been thinking seriously about becoming an independent
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he has been thinking “seriously” about leaving the Democratic Party and becoming an independent. The West Virginia senator made the comments Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.” Manchin says he has been “thinking about that for quite some time” but he hasn’t made any decision on his political direction. He says he wants to make sure his voice is “truly an independent voice.” Manchin has raised his national profile as a swing vote on major spending packages in the divided U.S. Senate. Manchin hasn’t officially announced whether he will run for reelection, but two Republicans, Gov. Jim Justice and Rep. Alex Mooney, have already announced their candidacies for his Senate seat.
More evacuations considered in Norway where the level in swollen rivers continues to rise
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Authorities are on standby to evacuate more people in southeastern Norway, where huge amounts of water, littered with broken trees, debris and trash, are thundering down the usually serene rivers after days of torrential rain. The level of water in swollen rivers and lakes continued to grow Friday despite two days of dry but overcast weather, flooding abandoned houses, coating cars in mud and swamping camping sites. In one of the most affected places where a river running through a town had gone over its banks, authorities were thinking about moving more people downstream out of fear of landslides. Norway’s prime minister and king were planning to visit affected sites.
California judge who’s charged with murder texted court staff that he shot his wife, prosecutors say
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Southern California judge accused of killing his wife had texted his court clerk and bailiff afterward to say he had shot her. A court filing seeking new bail conditions for Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson says his text said: “I just lost it. I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry.” He was charged Friday with murder. Authorities say 47 weapons were seized from his home. Prosecutors say Ferguson shot his wife after arguing at a restaurant on Aug. 3 and returning home.
Kentucky school district rushes to fix bus route snarl that canceled classes and outraged parents
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville school district officials say an overhaul of bus routes created too steep a learning curve for the system. The logistical meltdown forced classes to be canceled for two days this week as district officials tried to untangle the mess. Parents are outraged and state legislators are calling for changes. The district’s superintendent said Friday it could take until the middle of next week to fix the problems enough to resume classes. It took just one disastrous day for Jefferson County Public Schools leaders to reexamine the transportation plan for Kentucky’s largest district. The overhauled plan caused some children to arrive home hours late Wednesday, the first day of the new school term.