Idalia projected to hit Florida as Category 4 hurricane with ‘catastrophic’ storm surge
CEDAR KEY, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Idalia strengthened to a dangerous Category 4 storm Wednesday morning as it steams toward Florida’s Big Bend region and threatens to unleash life-threatening storm surges and rainfall. Authorities are warning of a “catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds” when Idalia hits Florida. Residents in vulnerable coastal areas had been ordered to pack up and leave as the storm gained steam in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. Idalia was packing sustained winds of 120 mph early Wednesday. The hurricane was projected to come ashore later Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of at least 130 mph in the lightly populated Big Bend region, where the Florida Panhandle curves into the peninsula.
Air attack kills 2 in Kyiv while Russia accuses Ukraine of biggest drone attack of the war
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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian officials are accusing Ukraine of launching what appears to be the biggest nighttime drone attack on Russian soil since the war began 18 months ago. On the same night, the Kremlin’s forces hit Kyiv with what Ukrainian officials called a “massive, combined attack” that killed two people. Drones hit an airport in Russia’s western Pskov region near the border with Estonia and Latvia early Wednesday. Russia’s state news agency Tass reported damage to four Il-76 transport aircraft that can carry heavy machinery. Russia, meanwhile, used drones and missiles in its biggest bombardment of Kyiv in months, Ukrainian authorities said.
Mutinous soldiers in Gabon say they’ve ousted president whose family has ruled for 55 years
LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — Mutinous soldiers in Gabon said Wednesday they were seizing power to overturn the results of a presidential election, and claimed to have arrested the president, whose family has held power for 55 years. The coup attempt came hours after the central African country’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba, 64, was declared winner of an election marred by fears of violence. Within minutes of the announcement, gunfire was heard in the center of the capital, Libreville. Later, a dozen uniformed soldiers appeared on state television and announced that they had seized power. Crowds took to the city’s streets to celebrate the end of Bongo’s reign, singing the national anthem with soldiers.
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, and it is unclear how many people perished. Authorities said Tuesday the count of the dead stands at 115 three weeks after the fire devastated Maui’s historic seaside community of Lahaina. 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.
Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio will be sentenced for seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Proud Boys national leader Enrique Tarrio is scheduled to be sentenced for orchestrating the far-right extremist group’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. Tarrio wasn’t in Washington, D.C, when Proud Boys members joined thousands of Donald Trump supporters in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But federal prosecutors say the Miami resident organized and led the group’s assault from afar. Tarrio’s defense lawyers say the Proud Boys had no plans to storm the Capitol. The Justice Department is seeking a 33-year prison sentence for Tarrio at Wednesday’s hearing. That’s nearly twice the length of the longest prison term so far among hundreds of Capitol riot prosecutions.
As Trump and Republicans target Georgia’s Fani Willis for retribution, the state’s governor opts out
ATLANTA (AP) — Republicans in Washington and Georgia are looking for ways to punish Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for indicting Donald Trump. But Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and some other Republicans in the state are opting out of the push, even as Trump eggs it on. In Washington, House Republicans last week announced an investigation of Willis. And in Georgia, Republicans are coalescing around a plan to seek Willis’ removal by a new state prosecutorial oversight commission that begins work on Oct. 1. Trump has made repeated attacks on Willis. But Kemp has kept criticism of Willis at arm’s length, underlining how ingrained his divide with Trump has become.
University of North Carolina graduate student left building right after killing adviser, police say
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say a University of North Carolina graduate student walked into a classroom building, shot his faculty adviser and then left. Thirty-four-year-old Tailei Qi was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in Monday’s killing of Zijie Yan inside of a science building at the state’s flagship public university. UNC Police Chief Brian James said at a news conference that Chapel Hill police arrested Qi in a residential neighborhood near campus. He says investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the attack and are still searching for the gun used to kill Yan. The attack led to a roughly three-hour lockdown on the UNC campus. No one else was hurt in the attack.
Pope heads to Mongolia to minister to its few Catholics and complete centuries-old East-West mission
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is travelling to Mongolia this week to minister to one of the world’s tiniest and newest Catholic communities, the first-ever visit by a Roman pontiff to the East Asian country. In some ways, he will be completing a mission begun by the 13th- century Pope Innocent IV, who dispatched a series of emissaries east with letters to ascertain the intentions of the expanding Mongol Empire. Some 800 years later, Francis won’t be testing new diplomatic waters or seeking to proselytize Mongolia’s mostly Buddhist people. His trip is still a historic meeting of East and West. Officially, there are only 1,450 Catholics in Mongolia and the Catholic Church has only had a sanctioned presence since 1992, after Mongolia shrugged off its Soviet-allied communist government.
Russia earns less from oil and spends more on war. So far, sanctions are working like a slow poison
The Russian currency has stabilized after dipping below 100 rubles to the U.S. dollar — but that doesn’t mean the pressure is off Russia’s economy. Western sanctions have cut into oil earnings, while government spending is heating up the economy, threatening to increase inflation. Russia’s central bank can strongly influence the ruble exchange rate, and did that with a recent emergency interest rate increase. But long term, Russia’s dwindling oil earnings and higher spending on imports will keep downward pressure on the ruble. Sanctions are working like a slow poison, reducing investment and undermining long-term economic growth. Some analysts suggest a lower price cap on Russian oil will increase the pressure.
Logging is growing in a Nigerian forest home to endangered elephants. Rangers blame lax enforcement
OMO FOREST RESERVE, Nigeria (AP) — Logging is threatening Omo Forest Reserve in southern Nigeria, which is home to endangered wildlife like African elephants. Conservationists say the outer region of the reserve, where logging is allowed, is already heavily deforested. As trees become scarce, loggers are heading deep into a protected part of the reserve, which is also under threat from uncontrolled cocoa farming and poaching. Conservationists and rangers blame the government for not enforcing environmental regulations or adequately replanting trees, impeding Nigeria’s pledges under the Paris climate agreement. The government says it will deploy the military and police against illegal operators. It denies compromising on regulations, which forest workers and sawmillers dispute.
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