TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Utility crews from across US arrive to help
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Utility crews from as far away as California and Canada have been brought to North Carolina to respond to what could be millions of power outages following Hurricane Florence.
As the crews gathered near the State Capitol in Raleigh on Thursday, dozens of trucks clogged the parking lots and lined the streets. Cherry pickers jutted into the darkening sky, and rusty utility pole drills stood at the ready.
With Duke Energy expecting up to 3 million power outages for its 4 million customers, power companies will need an extra hand.
New Brunswick, Canada-based Holland Power Services says it sent 100 vehicles and more than 250 workers to help Duke’s restoration efforts. A mile-long convoy of repair trucks could be seen moving between staging points in Raleigh.
So far, utilities have reported 80,000 customers without power because of Florence.
TRUMP-PUERTO RICO-THE LATEST
The Latest: WH: ‘Liberal media,’ mayor spread misinformation
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Donald Trump was responding to the “liberal media” and the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, when he tweeted that “3,000 people did not die” after Hurricane Maria hit the island last year.
Spokesman Hogan Gidley said Thursday that the” liberal media” and Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz are trying to exploit the island’s devastation by “pushing out a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations.”
Gidley says Trump directed the administration to provide unprecedented support to the island before, during and after two hurricanes hit Puerto Rico.
Trump cited no evidence for his tweet rejecting the widely accepted death toll of nearly 3,000 in Puerto Rico because of Maria.
Gidley cited other studies that blamed Maria for fewer than 3,000 deaths on the island.
ELECTION 2018-NEW YORK-GOVERNOR-THE LATEST
The Latest: NY Democratic primary could resonate around US
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Democrats across New York state are picking the winner of a long and sometimes nasty primary contest between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and activist and former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon.
The election got underway on Thursday — and the outcome will likely resonate around the nation.
It’s a high-profile example of the insurgent left-wing that’s trying to oust establishment incumbents who they say have failed to deliver on liberal promises.
Surveys show Cuomo is far ahead, but Nixon says the polls shouldn’t be trusted.
GAS EXPLOSIONS-THE LATEST
The Latest: Columbia Gas says crews working to check safety
LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — The company that owns Columbia Gas says its crews are performing safety checks after a series of fires and explosions erupted in three communities north of Boston, but did not explain what went wrong.
A statement from Indiana-based NiSource says its “thoughts are with everyone affected by today’s incident” and that it appreciates the response from local emergency crews.
State and local officials said at a news conference minutes earlier that they had still not heard from Columbia Gas following the fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. Gov. Charlie Baker later clarified that he thought the company’s response was “adequate.”
Authorities are blaming over-pressurized gas lines and previously told all residents with Columbia Gas service in those areas to evacuate.
At least six people were injured in the fires and explosions, including two in critical condition.
ELIZABETH SMART KIDNAPPER-PRISON RELEASE-THE LATEST
The Latest: Elizabeth Smart wants no contact with kidnapper
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Elizabeth Smart says she has no desire to talk to her kidnapper after her unexpected release from prison next week.
When asked during a news conference Thursday if she had any message for Wanda Barzee, Smart says she has nothing to say.
Smart says she forgave the 72-year-old several years ago but that forgiveness does not mean “allowing her back into my life.”
Smart says she made the decision a long time ago that she never wanted to see or talk to Barzee again.
Barzee and her husband, a former street preacher, abducted a then 14-year-old Smart from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. Smart was recognized and rescued after nine months.
Utah authorities say they miscalculated the time Barzee already served in federal prison.
The Latest: FBI confirms it received Kavanaugh information
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI has confirmed that it received unspecified information about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (FYN’-styn), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that she had notified federal investigators about information she received concerning Kavanaugh.
A Senate Democratic aide and another person familiar with the matter said it referred to an incident that occurred while Kavanaugh was high-school age.
The details of the incident and the identity of the person who provided the information were unclear.
An FBI statement said the information was received Wednesday evening and then included in Kavanaugh’s background file, which is maintained as part of his nomination. The agency says that’s standard process.
The statement gave no indication that the information in the letter was being investigated.
— Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Mike Balsamo contributed.
RUSSIA-POISONED SPY-THE LATEST
The Latest: UK repeats assertion that Russia is lying
MOSCOW (AP) — The British government has repeated its assertion that Russian authorities were lying about the poisoning of a Russian former spy in the English city of Salisbury.
Britain last week charged two Russians in absentia, alleging they were agents of Russia’s military intelligence agency who were dispatched to Salisbury to poison former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the nerve agent Novichok on March 4.
“The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service – the GRU – who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country,” officials said in a statement Thursday.
“We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March. Today – just as we have seen throughout – they have responded with obfuscation and lies.”
The two suspects appeared on Russian television on Thursday for the first time. They denied their involvement in the attack, saying their appearance in Salisbury in March was merely a coincidence and that they were there merely as tourists.
SICK ENDANGERED ORCA-THE LATEST
The Latest: Researcher who tracks whales declares orca dead
SEATTLE (AP) — Efforts to find an ailing orca from a critically endangered population of killer whales off Washington state have come up empty, and a scientist who tracks them has declared her dead.
Ken Balcomb, of the Center for Whale Research, confirmed Thursday that he had declared the orca known as J50 dead after she failed to appear with her family in recent days.
Experts had been preparing last-ditch efforts to save the nearly 4-year-old, emaciated whale that included the possibility of capturing and treating her.
Her loss brings the population of orcas that spend much of their time in the Pacific Northwest to just 74. The whales have been struggling with a dearth of their preferred prey, salmon, as well as pollution and boat noise.
VATICAN-SEX ABUSE-THE LATEST
The Latest: West Virginia AG plans review of allegations
VATICAN CITY (AP) — West Virginia’s attorney general says allegations that a U.S. Roman Catholic bishop sexually harassed adults warrant “a close review” by the state.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a statement Thursday after Pope Francis accepted Bishop Michael Bransfield’s resignation and authorized Baltimore Archbishop William Lori to conduct an investigation into allegations against Bransfield.
Bransfield was the bishop for the West Virginia diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Morrisey calls the allegations “disturbing.” He says a review is warranted “to determine how best we can protect West Virginians who might have been victims.”
The Republican Morrisey is seeking to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin in November’s election.
Emmy hosts Che, Jost ready for fun, politics, even mishaps
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Emmy hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost aren’t concerned about juggling fun and politics at next week’s ceremony.
Che said there will be political humor but the goal of the ceremony is to celebrate those who make TV and the shows that viewers enjoy.
The comedians anchor the “Weekend Update” segment on “Saturday Night Live,” and the Emmy broadcast is being produced by “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels.
The top nominees include “The Handmaid’s Tale,” ”Game of Thrones,” ”Atlanta” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
The Emmys will air at 8 p.m. EDT Monday on NBC.