Hurricane Idalia hits Florida with 125 mph winds, flooding streets, snapping trees and cutting power
PERRY, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Idalia tore into Florida at the speed of a fast-moving train Wednesday, splitting trees in half, ripping roofs off hotels and turning small cars into boats before sweeping into Georgia and South Carolina as a still-powerful storm that flooded roadways and sent residents running for higher ground.
“All hell broke loose,” said Belond Thomas of Perry, a mill town located just inland from the Big Bend region where Idalia came ashore.
Thomas fled with her family and some friends to a motel, thinking it would be safer than riding out the storm at home. But as Idalia's eye passed over about 8:30 a.m., a loud whistling noise pierced the air and the high winds ripped the building's roof off, sending debris down on her pregnant daughter, who was lying in bed. Fortunately, she was not injured.
“It was frightening,” Thomas said. "Things were just going so fast. ... Everything was spinning.”
After coming ashore, Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach at 7:45 a.m. as a high-end Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph (205 kph). The system remained a hurricane as it crossed into Georgia with top winds of 90 mph (150 kph). It weakened to a tropical storm by late Wednesday afternoon, and its winds had dropped to 65 mph (100 kph) by Wednesday evening.
Trump dismissive as New York attorney general accuses him of inflating his net worth by $2 billion
NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump defended his real estate empire and his presidency in a face-to-face clash with the New York attorney general suing him for fraud, testifying at a closed-door grilling in April that his company is flush with cash — and claiming he saved “millions of lives” by deterring nuclear war when he was president.
Trump, in testimony made public Wednesday, said it was a “terrible thing” that Attorney General Letitia James was suing him over claims he made on annual financial statements about his net worth and the value of his skyscrapers, golf courses and other assets.
Trump's lawyers released Trump’s 479-page deposition transcript in a flurry of court filings ahead of a Sept. 22 hearing where a judge could resolve part or all of the lawsuit before it goes to trial in October. James said evidence shows Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth by up to 39%, or more than $2 billion, in some years.
Sitting across from James at her Manhattan office on April 13, Trump said, “you don’t have a case and you should drop this case.” Noting his contributions to the city’s skyline, Trump said “it’s a shame” that “now I have to come and justify myself to you.”
Interrogated about the truthfulness of financial statements he gave to banks, Trump repeatedly insisted that, legally speaking, it didn't matter whether they were accurate or not.
Judge holds Giuliani liable in Georgia election workers' defamation case for withholding information
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday held Rudy Giuliani liable in a defamation lawsuit brought by two Georgia election workers who say they were falsely accused of fraud, ruling that the former New York city mayor gave “only lip service” to complying with his legal obligations while trying to portray himself as the victim in the case.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said the punishment was necessary because Giuliani had ignored his duty as a defendant to turn over information requested by election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea’ ArShaye Moss, as part of their lawsuit.
The decision moves the case toward a trial in Washington that could result in Giuliani being ordered to pay significant damages to the women, in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees he's already being directed to pay.
The workers' complaint from December 2021 accused Giuliani, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers and a confidant of the former Republican president, of defaming them by falsely stating that they had engaged in fraud while counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
In a statement Wednesday, the women said they had endured a “living nightmare” and an unimaginable “wave of hatred and threats" because of Giuliani's comments.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell appears to freeze up again, this time at a Kentucky event
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell appeared to briefly freeze up and was unable to answer a question from a reporter at an event in Kentucky on Wednesday, weeks after he had a similar episode in Washington.
As seen on video from a local news station, the 81-year-old McConnell was asked whether he would run for reelection in 2026. The senator asked the reporter to repeat the question before trailing off and staring straight ahead for about 10 seconds.
An aide standing at the front of the room with McConnell then asked him whether he heard the question and repeated it to him. When McConnell did not answer, the aide announced to the room that “we’re going to need a minute," and McConnell continued to stare ahead. In all, he was silent for around 30 seconds.
The latest incident in Covington, Kentucky, on Wednesday only adds to the questions in recent months about McConnell’s health and whether the Republican, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and has served as GOP leader since 2007, will remain in Congress and in his leadership post. His reaction was similar to an occurrence in July, when he froze for about 20 seconds at a news conference in the Capitol. That time, he went back to his office with aides and then returned to answer more questions.
McConnell eventually answered two additional questions at the Kentucky event — though not the one about a 2026 campaign — and appeared to have some difficulty speaking. The aide then ended the news conference and McConnell slowly left the room.
Gabon's wealthy, dynastic leader thought he could resist Africa's trend of coups. He might be wrong
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The president of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, knew well the threat of military coups in his part of the world. But he swore one wouldn’t happen to him.
“While our continent has been shaken in recent weeks by violent crises, rest assured that I will never allow you and our country Gabon to be hostages to attempts at destabilization. Never,” Bongo declared this month as the central African nation marked 60 years of independence from France, almost all of that time with his family in power.
Now, according to a group of mutinous Gabonese security forces who spoke on state television early Wednesday, he is under house arrest, accused of “unpredictable, irresponsible governance.” The soldiers who claimed authority said people around Bongo had been arrested for “high betrayal,” embezzlement and corruption, though it was not clear whether the president himself faced those charges.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Bongo said in a brief video shared with media outlets hours after the soldiers' predawn announcement. In the richly carpeted room where he sat, an image of former South African President Nelson Mandela sat on a bookshelf.
A longtime politician and one-time funk musician, the French-educated Bongo, 64, is a member of one of Africa’s political dynasties. He took office in 2009 after the death of his father, who ruled oil-rich Gabon for 41 years, and continued security partnerships with France and the United States.
Abortion anecdote from DeSantis at GOP debate is more complex than he made it sound
MIAMI (AP) — When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked during last week’s GOP presidential debate whether he would support nationwide abortion restrictions, he instead offered a startling anecdote.
“I know a lady in Florida named Penny,” he said. “She survived multiple abortion attempts. She was left discarded in a pan. Fortunately, her grandmother saved her and brought her to a different hospital.”
He offered no other details and the debate moderators moved on. But according to news reports, doctors who reviewed her case and an interview with the woman, the story is far more complicated than DeSantis made it sound.
It dates to 1955, a vastly different time both medically and socially. Abortion was largely illegal, including in Florida, contraception options were few and babies born at an extremely early gestational age were not expected to survive. Anti-abortion groups often use stories like this to argue against abortion. DeSantis also has frequently criticized abortions later in pregnancy on the campaign trail as he seeks to court GOP primary voters.
Decades later, there's little way to verify the details of what exactly happened. That raises questions about the story's relevance to the nation’s ongoing battle over abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year and debates over abortions later in pregnancy — especially when experts say such procedures are exceedingly rare and often involve severe complications.
White House says Putin and Kim Jong Un traded letters as Russia looks for munitions from North Korea
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Wednesday said that it has new intelligence that shows Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have swapped letters as Russia looks to North Korea for munitions for the war in Ukraine.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby detailed the latest finding just weeks after the White House said that it had determined that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during a recent visit to Pyongyang called on North Korean officials to increase the sale of munitions to Moscow for its Ukraine war.
Kirby said that Russia is looking for additional artillery shells and other basic materiel to shore up its defense industrial base.
He added that the letters were "more at the surface level” but that Russian and North Korean talks on a weapons sale were advancing. The leaders exchanged the letters following Shoigu's visit, he said.
“Following Shoigu's visit another group of Russian officials traveled to Pyongyang for follow-on discussions about potential arms deals between the DPRK and Russia,” Kirby said, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Ex-Catholic Cardinal McCarrick, age 93, found unfit to stand trial on teen sex abuse charges
DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) — The once-powerful Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick will not stand trial on charges he sexually assaulted a teenage boy decades ago, as a Massachusetts judge dismissed the case against the 93-year-old on Wednesday because both prosecutors and defense attorneys agree he is experiencing dementia.
McCarrick, the ex-archbishop of Washington, D.C., was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after an internal Vatican investigation determined he sexually molested adults as well as children. The McCarrick scandal created a crisis of credibility for the church, primarily because there was evidence Vatican and U.S. church leaders knew he slept with seminarians but turned a blind eye as McCarrick rose to the top of the U.S. church as an adept fundraiser who advised three popes.
During Wednesday's hearing, Dr. Kerry Nelligan, a psychologist hired by the prosecution, said she found significant deficits in McCarrick’s memory during two interviews in June, and he was often unable to recall what they had discussed from one hour to the next. As with any form of dementia, she said there are no medications that could improve the symptoms.
“It’s not just that he currently has these deficits,” Nelligan said. “There is no way they are going to get better.”
Without being able to remember discussions, he could not participate with his lawyers in his defense, she said.
Tesla is allowing no-hands driving with Autopilot for longer periods. US regulators have questions
DETROIT (AP) — Tesla is allowing some drivers to use its Autopilot driver-assist system for extended periods without making them put their hands on the steering wheel, a development that has drawn concern from U.S. safety regulators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ordered Tesla to tell the agency how many vehicles have received a software update making that possible and it's seeking more information on what the electric vehicle maker's plans are for wider distribution.
“NHTSA is concerned that this feature was introduced to consumer vehicles, and now that the existence of this feature is known to the public, more drivers may attempt to activate it,” John Donaldson, the agency's acting chief counsel, wrote in a July 26 letter to Tesla that was posted on the agency's website. “The resulting relaxation of controls designed to ensure that the driver remain engaged in the dynamic driving task could lead to greater driver inattention and failure of the driver to properly supervise Autopilot.”
A message was left early Wednesday seeking comment from Tesla. “If you haven't tried Tesla Autopilot, you don't know how awesome it is,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter.
The government has been investigating Autopilot for crashing into emergency vehicles parked on freeways, as well as hitting motorcycles and crossing tractor-trailers. It opened a formal probe in 2021 and since 2016 has sent investigators to 35 Tesla crashes that may involve partially automated driving systems. At least 17 people have died.
Spain has condemned inappropriate World Cup kiss. Can it now reckon with sexism in soccer?
MADRID (AP) — When Patricia Otero watched the president of Spain’s soccer federation tarnish the greatest victory in the history of women's sports in Spain by forcibly kissing a player on the lips during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony, she was saddened — but not surprised.
For this amateur soccer player, the kiss that Luis Rubiales pressed on Spain forward Jenni Hermoso was simply the most public and notorious example of the treatment she and her teammates received as girls and young women.
“We have seen that all our lives,” the 30-year-old told The Associated Press from the southern city of Malaga, where she still plays soccer when not teaching high school. And when Rubiales tried to justify the kiss by saying it was like one he would have “given my daughters,” it sounded eerily familiar.
“I had a coach who would pat our butts, and always while acting friendly, saying, ‘You are like a daughter to me.’ And that was when you are still not adult enough to know what he is doing,” she said. “You think it is normal.”
While women still struggle for equality in Spanish soccer — Otero recalled how her team had to sell raffle tickets to play and clean their own locker rooms while boys did neither — the reaction, in Spain and beyond, to the globally televised kiss has been widespread condemnation.
The Associated Press