Powerful earthquake strikes Morocco, killing hundreds and damaging historic buildings
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — A powerful earthquake struck Morocco late Friday night, killing hundreds of people and damaging buildings and historic landmarks in major cities.
Morocco’s Interior Ministry said early Saturday that at least 296 people had died in the provinces near the quake. Additionally, 153 injured people were sent to hospitals for treatment. The ministry wrote that most damage occurred outside of cities and towns.
Moroccans posted videos showing buildings reduced to rubble and dust, and parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city in Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site, damaged. Tourists and others posted videos of people screaming and evacuating restaurants in the city as throbbing club music played.
Reports on damage and any casualties often take time to filter in after many earthquakes, particularly those that hit in the middle of the night.
Rather than return to concrete buildings, men, women and children stayed out in the streets worried about aftershocks and other reverberations that could cause their homes to sway.
Georgia special grand jury recommended charges against 39 people, including Sen. Lindsey Graham
ATLANTA (AP) — The special grand jury that investigated efforts by Donald Trump and others to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results recommended indictments against twice as many people as the 19 ultimately charged by prosecutors, leaving South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham among those not indicted.
The grand jurors’ report released Friday showed they recommended racketeering charges against 39 people, including Graham, former U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. Charging recommendations against others included false statements and writings, influencing witnesses and criminal solicitation to commit election fraud.
Released at the request of the special grand jury, the report provides insight into one of the most expansive investigations into Trump, who is also facing two federal indictments along with unrelated state charges in New York City. While critics have accused Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis of launching an unwieldy, overly broad investigation, the report suggests she used her discretion to streamline the case.
There are many reasons Willis might have chosen not to charge all those recommended, including immunity deals with some, federal protections for others or insufficient evidence to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University who has been closely following the case, speculated that Willis took some of the special grand jury's vote breakdowns into consideration when deciding who to ultimately go after.
New Mexico governor issues order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding county for at least 30 days in response to a spate of gun violence.
The Democratic governor said she expects legal challenges but was compelled to act in response to gun deaths, including the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium this week.
The firearms suspension, classified as an emergency public health order, applies to open and concealed carry in most public place, from city sidewalks to urban recreational parks.
The restriction is tied to a threshold for violent crime rates currently only met by the Albuquerque area. Police and licensed security guards are exempt from the temporary ban.
Violators could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000, gubernatorial spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney said. The governor wants the order enforced by Albuquerque police, county sheriff’s deputies and state police.
Body cam catches elite federal prosecutor offering his Justice Department card in DUI crash arrest
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — When police arrived at his house to investigate a hit-and-run, Joseph Ruddy, one of the nation’s most prolific federal narcotics prosecutors, looked so drunk he could barely stand up straight, leaning on the tailgate of his pickup to keep his balance.
But he apparently was under control enough to be waiting with his U.S. Justice Department business card in hand.
“What are you trying to hand me?” an officer asked. “You realize when they pull my body-worn camera footage and they see this, this is going to go really bad."
That footage obtained by The Associated Press showed Ruddy apparently attempting to leverage his position to blunt the fallout from a Fourth of July crash in which he is accused of drunkenly striking another vehicle and leaving the scene.
But despite being charged, the 59-year-old Ruddy remained on the job for two months, representing the United States in court as recently as last week to notch another win for the sprawling task force he helped create two decades ago targeting cocaine smuggling at sea.
Prison guard who missed killer's escape is fired, as hunt for fugitive focuses on botanic garden
WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — A prison tower guard has been fired after a murderer slipped away on his watch in a brazen daytime escape, officials said Friday, as the nine-day-old search pressed on amid southeastern Philadelphia suburbs, farmland and a vast botanical garden.
News of the firing came as the searchers’ ranks grew overnight, focusing on the area around Longwood Gardens, where the fugitive inmate has been spotted before.
Danelo Souza Cavalcante, 34, escaped while awaiting transfer to state prison on Aug. 31 after being sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend in 2021. Prosecutors say he wanted to stop her from telling police that he’s wanted over a killing in his home country of Brazil.
Authorities have described Cavalcante as extremely dangerous. With the search in its second week, nervous residents remain alert for any sign of him. Police believe Cavalcante has been spotted nine times since his escape, most recently on Thursday night, and has managed to get ahold of clothing and other supplies.
The Chester County Prison county guard was fired Thursday after 18 years as a corrections officer, county spokesperson Michelle Bjork said. He was on duty in the watchtower when Cavalcante scaled a wall by crab-walking up from the recreation yard, climbed over razor wire, ran across a roof and jumped to the ground.
Ex-US intelligence officer for North Korea points to growing concern on nuclear threat toward South
WASHINGTON (AP) — The founder of North Korea's ruling dynasty, an isolationist totalitarian leader named Kim Il Sung, was still building some of the country's first nuclear facilities when Syd Seiler arrived on the Korean Peninsula as a young U.S. military intelligence officer.
Over the four decades since, Seiler has watched closely as Kim, his son and now his grandson have clung to their nuclear program and developed the potential to lob nuclear warheads at the U.S. and its allies if they choose.
Now Seiler is freshly retired after decades of advising presidents, military commanders and diplomats, making reported secret trips to North Korea and serving as a lead negotiator on talks to contain its nuclear program. And he has a parting message to American leaders: Don’t be discouraged.
North Korea’s fiery rounds of missile test launches are no reason to give up on the international sanctions and pressure, or to simply accept that the ruling Kim family is now a nuclear-armed power, Seiler told The Associated Press this week.
“That’s a failure of deterrence?” he asked, rhetorically. “That’s nonsense. We’re deterring an attack.”
The number of people missing following devastating Maui wildfires has dropped to 66, governor says
HONOLULU (AP) — One month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century leveled the historic town of Lahaina, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said Friday that the number of missing has dropped to 66, the confirmed death toll remains at 115 and authorities will soon escort residents on visits to their property.
Tens of millions of dollars in aid will make its way to families and businesses as they recover, Green said, and beginning Oct. 8, travel restrictions will end and West Maui will reopen to visitors.
“If we support Maui’s economy and keep our people employed, they will heal faster and continue to afford to live on Maui,” Green said.
Donations from around the world have poured in to the American Red Cross, the Hawaii Community Foundation, the Maui United Way and other organizations, Green said, and he has authorized $100 million from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program “to support what others donate, magnifying the power of their generosity.”
The government is also making $25 million available to help businesses survive, distributed in grants of $10,000 to $20,000, he said.
Biden and Modi working in 'warmth and confidence' to build ties as Chinese leader skips G20
NEW DELHI (AP) — President Joe Biden opened his visit to India on Friday by meeting privately with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Indian leader's home in a session the White House said was marked by “undeniable warmth and confidence” in one another going into the annual Group of 20 summit where climate, economic security and more will dominate the weekend's talks.
Biden spent 52 minutes with Modi after a lavish welcome ceremony at the airport, and Kurt Campbell, a Biden adviser on the Indo-Pacific, told reporters afterward that warm sentiments have replaced a sense of distrust and uncertainty that previously defined relations between the two countries.
“What I have seen grown over time is an undeniable warmth and confidence between the two leaders," Campbell said.
Another adviser, Eileen Laubacher, senior director for South Asia at the White House National Security Council, added that Biden and Modi were "so comfortable discussing, really, the breadth of things that we’re trying to accomplish together.”
A joint statement issued after the meeting reaffirmed U.S.-India partnerships on several fronts, especially with regard to computer chips, telecommunications, higher education, access to shipping lanes in the Indo-Pacific and the reduction of carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Biden also congratulated Modi on India’s recent moon landing.
On 'João', Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto honors her late father, bossa nova giant João Gilberto
SAO PAULO (AP) — Since the start of her career, New York-born Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto has put out albums rooted in the South American nation's rich musical history. And in the sound of her family, too — that of her late father, bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto.
But she had never made it a point to record an album of his songs. Until now.
Four years after his death, she decided it was time to reconnect with the biggest influence in her life and career. So she has released “João,” her first album made up entirely of songs composed or made famous by her father.
“It is a love letter to him,” Gilberto told The Associated Press in a phone interview from her New York City apartment this week amid concerts on her current tour. “Do you know when you want to pay a tribute to someone and then you go to Instagram and write a long posting? I wanted to talk to him. My way of doing it was making this album."
“It is just that the time has come. I wanted his music to travel again,” she added.
California lawmakers vote to limit when local election officials can count ballots by hand
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers on Friday voted to limit when local governments can count election ballots by hand, a move aimed at a rural Northern California county that canceled its contract with Dominion Voting Systems amid unfounded allegations of fraud pushed by former Republican President Donald Trump and his allies.
Shasta County's board of supervisors, which is controlled by a conservative majority, voted in January to get rid of the voting machines it used to tabulate hand-marked ballots for its roughly 111,000 registered voters. County supervisors said there was a loss of public confidence in the machines from Dominion Voting Systems, a company at the center of discredited conspiracy theories since the 2020 presidential election.
At the time, leaders did not have a plan for how the county would conduct future elections, including the March 2024 Republican presidential primary in delegate-rich California that could be key in deciding who wins the GOP nomination. The county had been preparing to count ballots by hand for its next election on Nov. 7, 2023, to fill seats on the school board and fire district, and decide the fate of two ballot measures.
On Friday, the California Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, essentially voted to stop Shasta County officials from using a hand count to tally votes. The bill, which was approved by two-thirds of lawmakers in both chambers, would only allow hand counts by local election officials under narrow circumstances. The exceptions are for regularly scheduled elections with fewer than 1,000 eligible registered voters and special elections where there are fewer than 5,000 eligible voters.
“Hand counts are complex, imprecise, expensive and resource intensive,” said Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, a Democrat from Santa Cruz who authored the bill and is a former local election official. “Research has consistently shown that humans are poor at completing rote, repetitive tasks.”
The Associated Press