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Heavy rains and 90 mph winds are lashing the Carolinas coast as Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm. The storm surge has already reached 10 feet, sending chest-high water pouring into residents’ homes and forcing first responders to make emergency rescues overnight. Florence has already knocked out power for more than 400,000 people across North and South Carolina. The storm is expected to linger over the region throughout the day today, unleashing up to 40 inches of rain on some coastal communities, threatening to cause deadly flash flooding and toxic waste spills of coal ash and pig manure from the hog farms lining the Carolinas coast. This is North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
Gov. Roy Cooper: “The worst of the storm is not yet here. But these are the early warnings of the days to come. Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience.”
President Trump has continued to generate widespread criticism for his comments about the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year, which he has called an “incredible unsung success.” He’s now falsely claiming that 3,000 people did not die in the wake of the devastating storm. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…” He went on to tweet, “.....This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” Puerto Rico’s governor formally updated the death toll from the storm to 2,975 people in August, after multiple news outlets and universities demonstrated that thousands of people died during the days and weeks after Maria. A Harvard study estimates the death toll might be as high as 4,645 people. On Thursday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted, “This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!”
In the New York primary, Governor Andrew Cuomo defeated insurgent progressive challenger Cynthia Nixon, while incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul defeated challenger Jumaane Williams. New York City Public Advocate Letitia James won the Democratic primary for attorney general. If she wins in November, James will become the first black woman elected to a statewide position in New York. Lawyer Alessandra Biaggi defeated New York state Senator Jeffrey Klein, who led the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference—a group of Democratic state senators who aligned themselves with Republicans. And community organizer and Democratic Socialist candidate Julia Salazar won her New York state Senate primary in Brooklyn, unseating 16-year incumbent Martin Dilan. Twenty-seven-year-old Salazar ran on a platform of affordable housing for all, while her opponent, Dilan, has received more money from real estate developers than nearly any other New York state Senate Democrat. Salazar won despite a number of recent news articles that raised questions about how she had described her political affiliations, family wealth and birthplace. At Columbia University, she was president of Christians United for Israel and an anti-choice group. She now identifies as Jewish and pro-choice. She is also among a dozen women to accuse Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s international spokesman David Keyes of sexual assault and harassment. Keyes has announced he’s taking a leave of absence.
Meanwhile, in New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday, a former refugee from Afghanistan named Safiya Wazir defeated deeply entrenched incumbent Dick Patten in the Democratic primary for state representative in Concord. Wazir ran on a platform of education equality, affordable housing and Medicaid expansion. Patten ran on an anti-immigrant platform. She beat him out by winning 329 votes to his 143.
The New York Times reports that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort will soon reach a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid an upcoming trial for his foreign lobbying work in Ukraine. His plea deal could include cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. Last month, Manafort was convicted in a Virginia court on eight charges of bank and tax fraud.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed its vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until next week. This comes as California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has referred information to the FBI involving an accusation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh when he was in high school.
In Massachusetts, dozens of homes exploded Thursday in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, killing a teenager and seriously injuring at least 10 more. The fiery explosions forced residents of the three towns north of Boston to flee for their lives. The Andover fire chief said the scene “looked like Armageddon.” Officials say it’s not exactly clear what caused the explosions, but that it could have been caused by an overpressured gas line. Columbia Gas was upgrading the gas lines in the three towns when the dozens of homes suddenly went up in flames.
In Argentina, thousands of teachers and students walked out of classes Thursday to protest Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s crippling austerity policies. This is one of the teachers, Sergio Stape.
Sergio Stape: “A government that is taking away the opportunity of not just education but also health, allocating a large part of the budget to security, we see this as a step back.”
And a new lawsuit accuses Michigan State University officials of intentionally covering up a 1992 rape committed by doctor Larry Nassar, who has now been convicted of sexually abusing hundreds of women and girls. The lawsuit alleges Dr. Nassar, who was also the USA Gymnastics team doctor, drugged and raped a 17-year-old field hockey player, Erika Davis, at Michigan State University and videotaped the rape. The suit says Michigan State University then stripped Davis of her scholarship after she reported the rape to police, and forced Davis’s coach—whom she had told about the rape—to resign and sign a nondisclosure agreement. The suit argues, “Michigan State University could have prevented hundreds of young girls and women from being sexually assaulted by Defendant Nassar had they only acted appropriately, decently and lawfully in 1992.”