PUERTO RICO-HURRICANE MARIA
Telling the stories of Puerto Rican victims of Maria
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A year after Hurricane Maria roared across the Caribbean, The Associated Press, the news site Quartz and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism have put together the most detailed portrait yet of the final days of storm victims.
The joint investigation reflects how Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable fell victim to dire conditions created by the storms. Many could have been saved with standard medical treatment. This slow-motion, months-long disaster kept Puerto Ricans from getting the care they needed for treatable ailments, even as Trump lauded his administration’s response.
President Donald Trump cast doubt on Maria’s widely accepted death toll, tweeting that “3000 people did not die.” He said the death count had been inflated by Democrats who added unrelated deaths to the toll from causes like old age.
The Latest: Paul Manafort expected to plead guilty in deal
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is expected to plead guilty to federal charges as part of a deal with the special counsel’s office.
A court filing Friday shows a plea hearing is set for later in the morning.
The plea deal would allow Manafort to avoid a second trial that had been scheduled to start next week in Washington.
Manafort was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia.
Prosecutors had filed new charging documents against Manafort. The charges in Friday’s filing were contained in a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant’s consent and typically signals a deal has been reached.
Manafort’s second trial would have been related to his Ukrainian political consulting work, including failing to register as a foreign agent.
The Latest: Hurricane Florence now hovering near Cape Fear
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Forecasters say the center of Hurricane Florence is hovering just inland near Cape Fear, North Carolina.
It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), but stronger wind gusts have been reported.
At 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 mph (6kph), lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km).
Monster typhoon barrels toward north Philippines, China
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Typhoon Mangkhut has retained its ferocious strength and slightly shifted toward more densely populated coastal provinces as it barrels closer to the northeastern Philippines, where a massive evacuation is underway.
More than 4 million people are at risk from the storm, which the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center categorizes as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.
Forecaster Chris Perez says the typhoon was initially expected to hit the northern tip of Cagayan province but it’s now likely to make landfall farther south. He says the shift won’t cause much difference because of the typhoon’s massive size.
After the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory predicts it will plow into the Chinese mainland with sustained winds of 175 kilometers (109 miles) per hour.
YEMEN-POCKET OF FAMINE
In a remote district, starving Yemenis live off leaves
CAIRO (AP) — Yemenis in an isolated pocket in the north have been reduced to eating boiled leaves from a local vine to stave off starvation, with no aid reaching many families who need it most.
The situation in Aslam district is a sign of the holes in an international aid system that is already overwhelmed. Yet outside aid is the only thing standing between Yemen’s people and massive death from starvation amid the country’s 3-year civil war.
In terms of hunger, Aslam isn’t alone. Health officials say that other districts closer to war zones may not be getting food aid at all. But Aslam did see one of the province’s highest jumps in the number of reported children suffering from severe acute malnutrition: From 384 cases being treated in January, an additional 1,319 more came in over the next six months, according to local health records.
TROPICAL STORM-FLEEING TO FLORIDA
Florida opens up hotel rooms, ports to Florence evacuees
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Long accustomed to its residents evacuating north when hurricanes threaten, Florida is in the unusual position of accommodating diverted cruise ships and hotel-room seekers hoping to escape the wrath of Hurricane Florence.
Florida emergency officials said Thursday they had no way of tracking how many residents from the Carolinas had escaped to Florida this week. But some hotels were offering special discounts for evacuees and Florida ports were opening their terminals to cruise ships making unexpected ports of call.
Port Canaveral along Florida’s Space Coast had two ships visiting unexpectedly. Thousands of passengers on both ships took excursions to Orlando theme parks, local beaches and the nearby Kennedy Space Center.
In Orlando, hotelier Harris Rosen was offering substantial discounts to evacuees at his nine hotels.
GAS EXPLOSIONS-THE LATEST
The Latest: Firefighters responded to 60 to 80 has fires
LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — The head of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency says firefighters responded to 60 to 80 structure fires in the three communities affected by a series of natural gas explosions.
Kurt Schwartz said Friday that firefighters in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover responded to about 150 emergency calls Thursday.
He says about 400 people spent the night in emergency shelters and no additional natural gas-related emergencies have been reported Friday.
The exact cause of the fires and explosions remains under investigation.
Gov. Charlie Baker said hundreds of natural gas technicians have been deployed throughout the area to go house by house to ensure they are safe.
The Republican governor says he realizes the situation is a “massive inconvenience” but asked for patience.
An 18-year-old man died and at least 25 people were injured in the fires and explosions.
ELECTION 2018-NEW YORK-GOVERNOR
Cuomo cruises past Nixon in NY gubernatorial primary
NEW YORK (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has easily beaten back a primary challenge from activist and actress Cynthia Nixon. He thwarted her attempt to become the latest insurgent liberal to knock off an establishment Democrat.
Cuomo, who always led in the polls and outspent his rival more than 8 to 1, seldom mentioned Nixon by name during an often-nasty campaign, instead touting his experience, achievements in two terms as governor and his work to push back against President Donald Trump.
In his moment of victory Thursday night, Cuomo was oddly silent, skipping his own election-night party in Manhattan to celebrate with family at the governor’s mansion in Albany. He put out a tweet that said simply “Thank You New York.” His campaign declined to issue a statement.
Possible domestic violence motive after California rampage
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Officials are investigating a possible domestic violence motive after a man shot and killed his ex-wife and four others before killing himself in Southern California.
Kern County authorities say Javier Casarez targeted his victims at two locations during a half-hour rampage Wednesday in Bakersfield.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Thursday that detectives don’t know what specifically set Casarez off, but they’re looking into whether any of the victims had relationships with his ex-wife.
In his petition for divorce filed in December, Casarez accused Petra Maribel Bolanos De Casarez of cheating and asked the judge for his wife’s text messages to specific phone numbers. The judge denied the request.
Bolanos had recently filed for an unspecified change in orders involving child support and property.
RACIST STATUE-SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco statue that some call racist is removed
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Crews have removed a 19th century statue near San Francisco’s City Hall that some have said is racist and demeaning to indigenous people.
KTVU-TV reports workers using a crane removed the statue early Friday as a group of Native Americans chanted and beat drums.
The statue depicts a Native American at the feet of a Spanish cowboy and a Catholic missionary.
It is part of a group of statues depicting the founding of California.
Morning Star Gali of the International Indian Treaty Council told KTVU that she wanted to witness the removal.
She says Native Americans fought for the statue’s removal because they don’t want their children to witness their people being treated in a degrading and stereotypical way.
A San Francisco board voted unanimously on Wednesday to remove it.