Official: Searchers find body in hurricane-stricken town
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Search-and-rescue teams found at least one body in Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town nearly obliterated by Hurricane Michael, an official said Friday as the scale of the storm’s fury became ever clearer.
The death toll across the South stood at 14 including the victim discovered in Mexico Beach.
Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban, leader of a search-and-rescue unit that went into the flattened town, said: “We have one confirmed deceased and are working to determine if there are others.” Zahralban said searchers were trying to determine if that person had been alone or was part of a family.
Zahralban spoke as his team — which included a dog — was winding down its two-day search of Mexico Beach, the town of about 1,000 people that was nearly wiped off the map when Michael blew ashore there Wednesday with devastating 155 mph (249 kph) winds.
Blocks and blocks of homes were demolished, reduced to splintered lumber or mere concrete slabs by the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.
‘It was life or death’: Face-to-face with Michael’s fury
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Tom Garcia watched in terror as fingers of water pushed inland across the beach and began filling up his home.
His wife handed him a drill and Garcia used screws to pin his front and back door shut. But soon the storm surge from Hurricane Michael was up to his chest. His dogs sat on his bed as it floated. He said it took all of his strength to hold his sliding door shut as the waters outside the glass rose higher than those flooding the house.
“It was life or death,” Garcia said through tears Friday as he walked amid the destruction in Mexico Beach.
Michael was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the U.S., and this Gulf Coast community of about 1,000 people was in its bullseye Wednesday. While most residents fled ahead of the storm’s arrival, others stayed to face the hurricane.
They barely escaped as homes were smashed from their foundations, neighborhoods got submerged, and broken boards, sheet metal and other debris flew through the air.
Trump vows to unearth truth about Khashoggi disappearance
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Friday the U.S. will uncover the truth about what happened to journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, whose possible murder at Saudi hands after disappearing in Istanbul has captured worldwide attention. Trump promised to personally call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman soon about “the terrible situation in Turkey.”
“We’re going to find out what happened,” Trump pledged when questioned by reporters in Cincinnati where he was headlining a political rally.
Khashoggi, a forceful critic of the Saudi government, went missing more than a week ago after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and Turkish officials have said they believe he was murdered there. U.S. officials say they are seeking answers from the Saudi government and are not yet accepting the Turkish government’s conclusions.
The Saudis have called accusations that they are responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance “baseless.” Widely broadcast video shows the 59-year-old writer and Washington Post contributor entering the consulate on Tuesday of last week, but there is none showing him leaving.
Separately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, the State Department said Friday. No details of the conversation were released.
US pastor released from house arrest, flown out of Turkey
IZMIR, Turkey (AP) — An American pastor flew out of Turkey on Friday after a Turkish court convicted him of terror links but freed him from house arrest, removing a major irritant in fraught ties between two NATO allies still strained by disagreements over Syria, Iran and a host of other issues.
The court near the western city of Izmir sentenced North Carolina native Andrew Brunson to just over three years in prison for allegedly helping terror groups, but let him go because the 50-year-old evangelical pastor had already spent nearly two years in detention. An earlier charge of espionage was dropped.
Hours later, Brunson was transported to Izmir’s airport and was flown out of Turkey, where he had lived for more than two decades. He was to be flown to the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, then on to Washington, where he was to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday.
“I love Jesus. I love Turkey,” an emotional Brunson, who had maintained he was innocent of all charges, told the court during Friday’s hearing. He tearfully hugged his wife Norine Lyn as he awaited the court decision.
“PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED. WILL BE HOME SOON!” Trump tweeted after the American was driven out of a Turkish prison in a convoy. Later, after Brunson was airborne, Trump told reporters the pastor had “suffered greatly” but was in “very good shape,” and that he would meet with him at the Oval Office on Saturday.
What could soothe markets? Solid earnings, economic reports
WASHINGTON (AP) — After a harrowing week for financial markets, investors will look for solid corporate earnings reports and healthy economic news over the next few weeks to calm things down.
This week, sharply higher bond yields, fears of faster rate hikes, and the prospect of a long trade war between the United States and China prompted a two-day rout in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 1,300 points on Wednesday and Thursday.
Even as the Dow regained almost 300 of those points Friday, some experts said investors’ concerns haven’t been resolved. But if fresh evidence emerges that the economy remains healthy and growing, and companies are still churning out robust profit gains, the stock market may eventually push aside those fears.
“The basic question everybody has to ask is, has the fundamental situation deteriorated or not?” said David Kelly, chief global strategist for JPMorgan Funds. “Unless something else goes wrong, volatility will ultimately settle down and stocks will move up.”
The third-quarter earnings season will intensify in the coming weeks and should show whether profit growth remains strong despite the market’s worries. Earnings are projected to grow nearly 20 percent from a year earlier, a healthy gain if slightly below the previous two quarters.
At Ohio rally, Trump touts ‘historic week for America’
LEBANON, Ohio (AP) — President Donald Trump took a victory lap in Ohio on Friday, touting a “really historic week for America” that began with the installation of his second Supreme Court justice and concluded with the release of an American detained in Turkey.
Jocular and boastful, Trump barnstormed — in what was a barn on a rural fairgrounds — for Ohio’s gubernatorial and congressional candidates, but, as he often does, spent much of the hour-plus speech touting his own track record. He zeroed in on the past week, which many White House aides believe was one of the most successful of his presidency.
Trump drew loud cheers from the crowd for securing the release of pastor Andrew Brunson, swaggering that “we bring a lot of people back.” After Brunson was sentenced to three years in a Turkish prison on terror charges, Turkey’s government quickly freed him to return to the U.S.
Trump dwelt at length on the trials of Brett Kavanaugh, who was seated on the Supreme Court this week after a contentious confirmation process that featured multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, which he denied, and bitter partisan battles. But Trump argued that the bruising process, which ignited a soul-searching national conversation about sexual assault, was “a tremendous service” for his party.
“We are more energized as Republicans than ever before,” Trump told the crowd bundled against the chill on the outskirts of the Cincinnati region. “Did he get treated badly or unfairly or what? Horrible.”
Views are mixed on hate crime law named for Matthew Shepard
NEW YORK (AP) — Twenty years after Matthew Shepard’s death , the federal hate crimes law bearing his name is viewed with mixed feelings by LGBT and anti-violence organizations that lobbied over nearly a decade for its passage.
President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law on Oct. 28, 2009, just over 11 years after Shepard — a gay 21-year-old college student — died from injuries suffered in a brutal beating by two Wyoming men .
The act expanded the 1969 federal hate-crime law to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It strengthened other aspects of the old law and provided funding and technical assistance to state and local jurisdictions to bolster their investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.
The U.S. Justice Department says that as of this summer, it had used the Shepard/Byrd law to indict 88 defendants in 42 hate crimes cases, with 64 convictions to date. It provided a breakdown on the nature of recent hate crimes cases, saying seven of the 32 convictions since January 2017 involved crimes targeting gay and transgender people. A 2017 report compiled for the Matthew Shepard Foundation documented 25 cases prosecuted under the Shepard/Byrd law through mid-2017; nine of them involved LGBT victims.
Some activists have been disappointed by the relatively low number of anti-LGBT cases prosecuted under the law.
Defendant lunges for officer’s gun in Oregon courtroom
NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) — Video shows a dramatic Oregon courtroom scuffle in which a defendant lunges for a police officer’s gun.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports a judge had denied a request by deputies to restrain 27-year-old Scott Lemmon in court Wednesday.
In the video, Lemmon stands up and grabs for a gun worn by a Newport police officer sitting at a table nearby.
The officer turned away and a courthouse deputy tackled Lemmon to the floor.
Lemmon was on trial for robbery and other charges and was later convicted. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office says he could face new charges.
Mega Millions drawing Friday offers awful odds, huge jackpot
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A lucky player could soon overcome remarkably bad odds to win the ninth-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.
Numbers will be drawn Friday night for a chance at the estimated $548 million Mega Millions prize. The jackpot has been growing since July, when a group of California office workers won $543 million.
It costs $2 to play the game, but the odds of instant wealth aren’t good. The chance of matching all six numbers and winning the jackpot is one in 302.5 million.
The $548 million jackpot refers to the annuity option, paid out over 29 years. Most winners opt for cash, which for Friday night’s drawing would be an estimated $309 million.
Mega Millions is played in 44 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Ex-3 Doors Down bassist gets 10 years on gun charge
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — The founding member and former bassist of the rock band 3 Doors Down has been sentenced to 10 years in Mississippi state prison for possession of a firearm by a felon.
News outlets report Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Krebs gave Todd Harrell the maximum penalty during a hearing Thursday.
Authorities responded to Harrell’s home after an alarm went off in June. Harrell’s wife told deputies they had got into an argument that turned physical. While deputies were talking to the couple, they noticed guns and drugs in the home.
Harrell had served two years in prison for causing a fatal crash in Nashville in 2013. He testified in 2015 that he had been addicted to prescription drugs and was speeding.
The band, which has had hits including “Kryptonite,” suspended Harrell after a second-offense DUI in 2012.
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