Haiti starting to gauge full damage from Matthew’s rampage
LES CAYES, Haiti (AP) — Two days after Hurricane Matthew rampaged across Haiti’s remote southwestern peninsula with roaring winds and flooding rains, local authorities and international aid workers still lack a clear picture of the storm’s destruction.
But the weather began calming Wednesday and a way was found around a key bridge that was washed away, allowing convoys and helicopters to start ventruing to marooned corners to assess the damage and determine how to help thousands of people who lost homes, livestock and crops.
The death toll was raised to 10 by Haiti’s civil protection agency Wednesday evening, but the number was expected to tick upward as more hard-hit rural areas are reached Thursday and people tell their stories.
In Aquin, a south coast town outside the battered city of Les Cayes, people trudged through the mud around the wreckage of clapboard houses and tiny shops.
Cenita Leconte was one of many coastal residents who initially ignored official calls to evacuate vulnerable shacks before Matthew roared ashore at dawn Tuesday as a Category 4 hurricane. The 75-year-old is thankful she finally complied and made it through the terrifying ordeal with her life.
Nearly 2M urged to evacuate as Matthew edges toward US
MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Matthew marched toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas and nearly 2 million people along the coast were urged to evacuate their homes Wednesday, a mass exodus ahead of a major storm packing power the U.S. hasn’t seen in more than a decade.
Matthew was a dangerous and life-threatening Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 120 mph (190 kph) as it passed through the Bahamas, and it was expected to be very near Florida’s Atlantic coast by Thursday evening. At least 16 deaths in the Caribbean have been blamed on the storm, with heavy damage reported in Haiti.
The storm was forecast to scrape much of the Florida coast and any slight deviation could mean landfall or it heading farther out to sea. Either way, it was going to be close enough to wreak havoc along the lower part of the East Coast, and many people weren’t taking any chances.
In Melbourne Beach, near the Kennedy Space Center, Carlos and April Medina moved their paddle board and kayak inside the garage and took pictures off the walls of their home about 500 feet from the coast. They moved the pool furniture inside, turned off the water, disconnected all electrical appliances and emptied their refrigerator.
They then hopped in a truck filled with legal documents, jewelry and a decorative carved shell that had once belonged to April Medina’s great-grandfather and headed west to Orlando, where they planned to ride out the storm with their daughter’s family.
Hurricane Matthew slams Haiti, takes aim at US East Coast
PETIT-GOAVE, Haiti (AP) — Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti’s southwestern tip with howling 145 mph winds Tuesday, knocking down trees and tearing off roofs in the poor and largely rural area, while inundating neighborhoods in floodwaters and mud.
By nightfall, at least 11 deaths had been blamed on the powerful storm during its week-long march across the Caribbean. But with a key bridge washed out, impassable roads and phone communication cut off with Haiti’s hardest-hit area, there was no way to know how many people might be dead or injured.
Matthew, slightly weakened but still a dangerous Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds, whipped at Cuba’s sparsely populated eastern tip Tuesday night, as it headed for a two-day run up the length of the Bahamas that would take it near the U.S. coast.
Twenty-foot waves pounded the seafront promenade in the Cuban town of Baracoa. Powerful winds rattled the walls of homes and heavy rain caused some flooding. But state media said late Tuesday there were no immediate reports of serious damage.
Hours after Matthew made landfall on Haiti’s now-marooned southwestern peninsula, government leaders said they couldn’t fully gauge the impact.
After testy VP debate, Trump rebuffs claim he ‘loves’ Putin
HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Donald Trump pushed back Wednesday on Hillary Clinton’s accusation that he’s cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin after the charge put Trump’s running mate on the defensive during the vice presidential debate.
Trump offered effusive praise for Mike Pence’s performance — but also claimed credit for it — even as both campaigns acknowledged that the sole vice presidential debate was unlikely to alter the race’s trajectory.
The celebrity businessman said his relationship with Russia’s leader would be determined by how Moscow responds to strong U.S. leadership under a Trump administration.
“They say Donald Trump loves Putin. I don’t love, I don’t hate. We’ll see how it works,” Trump told a rally outside Las Vegas.
Clinton on Wednesday shrugged that off, saying Trump has “this weird fascination with dictators.”
NSA contractor accused of taking classified information
WASHINGTON (AP) — A contractor for the National Security Agency has been arrested on charges that he illegally removed highly classified information and stored the material in his home and car, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, was arrested by the FBI in August after he admitted to having taken government secrets, authorities said. A defense attorney said Martin did not intend to betray his country.
The arrest was not made public until Wednesday, when the Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint that accused Martin of having been in possession of top-secret information that could cause “exceptionally grave danger” to national security if disclosed.
Among the classified documents found with Martin, the FBI said, were six that contain sensitive intelligence — meaning they were produced through sensitive government sources or methods that are critical to national security — and date back to 2014. All the documents were clearly marked as classified information, according to a FBI affidavit accompanying the complaint.
The complaint does not specify what documents Martin is alleged to have taken. He was arrested around the same time U.S. officials acknowledged an investigation into a cyber leak of purported hacking tools used by the NSA. That tool kit consists of malicious software intended to tamper with firewalls, the electronic defenses protecting computer networks. Those documents were leaked by a group calling itself the “Shadow Brokers.” The complaint does not reference that group or allege a link to Martin.
Texas man who killed neighbor couple has been executed
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — An East Texas man who pleaded guilty to killing a neighbor couple during a shooting rampage 13 years ago and said he wanted to be put to death for the crime was executed Wednesday evening.
Barney Fuller Jr., 58, had asked that all his appeals be dropped to expedite his death sentence.
Fuller never made eye contact in the death chamber with witnesses, who included the two children of the slain couple.
Asked by Warden James Jones if he had any final statement, Fuller responded: “I don’t have anything to say. You can proceed on, Warden Jones.”
Fuller took a deep breath as Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials injected a lethal dose of pentobarbital into each arm, then blurted out: “Hey, you fixin’ to put me to sleep.”
Plane evacuated after Samsung smartphone starts smoking
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — An overheating, smoking Samsung smartphone forced the evacuation of a Southwest Airlines jet that was preparing to take off Wednesday from the Louisville airport.
The incident raised fresh trouble for Samsung, which saw its new Galaxy Note 7 device recalled last month because of overheating batteries.
Samsung, Southwest and federal aviation-safety officials declined to say what model of Samsung phone was involved, saying they were still investigating.
But an Indiana woman, Sarah Green, told The Courier-Journal of Louisville that it was her husband’s Galaxy Note 7 that made popping noises and started to smoke after he powered it down while the plane sat at the gate.
Green told the newspaper that her husband, Brian, received the Galaxy Note 7 about two weeks ago as a replacement for his recalled phone. He called her from someone else’s phone to tell her what happened.
Activists blast ‘O’Reilly Factor’ Chinatown piece as racist
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Watchdog and activist groups are outraged by a Fox News Channel segment in which an interviewer asked people in New York’s Chinatown if he was supposed to bow to greet them, if they were selling stolen goods and if they could “take care of North Korea for us.”
Several organizations condemned humorist Jesse Watters’ piece on “The O’Reilly Factor,” calling it racist and demeaning to Asian-Americans.
“It’s 2016. We should be far beyond tired, racist stereotypes and targeting an ethnic group for humiliation and objectification on the basis of their race,” Asian American Journalists Association President Paul Cheung said in a letter to Fox and posted online. He is director of interactive and digital news production for The Associated Press.
Cheung called on Fox to apologize to the Asian-American community and asked for “an explanation for how this type of coverage will be prevented in the future.”
Watters asked people on the street about the presidential race, sought a demonstration of karate and showed footage of him getting a pedicure.
Bumgarner, Gillaspie lead Giants over Mets 3-0; Cubs next
NEW YORK (AP) — Nobody takes to October like Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants.
Bumgarner pitched a four-hitter for his latest postseason gem, outlasting Noah Syndergaard in a classic duel between aces, and injury substitute Conor Gillaspie hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning that sent San Francisco to a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets in the NL wild-card game Wednesday night.
Gillaspie connected off All-Star closer Jeurys Familia, who led the majors this year with a club-record 51 saves while allowing only one home run.
With their ninth consecutive victory when facing postseason elimination, manager Bruce Bochy and the Giants advanced to play the NL Central champion Cubs in a best-of-five Division Series. Game 1 is Friday night at venerable Wrigley Field in Chicago.
The good news for the Cubs as they attempt to end a championship drought that dates to 1908 is that Bumgarner probably won’t start until Game 3 — and would only be available once on full rest.
For Clinton, election likely to be won or lost in October
WASHINGTON (AP) — Each night, Hillary Clinton’s data experts head to a conference room on the 11th floor of her Brooklyn headquarters, to start counting votes.
The sessions in the “early voter boiler room,” as it’s been dubbed by campaign aides, stretch into the early hours of the morning. The team pores over turnout patterns in states where advance voting is already underway, projects how many votes Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have already received, and updates crucial targeting lists of the voters she still needs.
For Clinton, October is when she’s likely to win or lose the election, not Nov. 8. By the third week of this month, Clinton’s campaign hopes to have a solid enough sample of the early vote to know whether the Democrat is on track to win the White House.
“Many battleground states are already voting so every day is Election Day,” said Matt Dover, Clinton’s voter analytics director.
In several competitive states, including North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Florida and Nevada, at least 45 percent of the total vote is expected to come in early. Initial metrics show good news for Clinton in North Carolina, a must-win state for Trump. There are modestly positive signs for the Republican in Iowa, but that’s a state the Democrat can likely afford to lose.