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a href=”https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/2018-09-14-hurricane-florence-north-carolina-impacts”>Hurricane Florence began crashing into the state of North Carolina on Thursday wreaking havoc in towns and cities. Many homes and businesses were damaged in Onslow County and 150 people were stranded in New Bern before being rescued. More than 500,000 people had their power knocked out. In Morehead city, reports emerged of a 10-foot storm surge and 20 inches of rain. In Washington, North Carolina, residents reported more than 7 feet of rain. Across the state there are 126 shelters housing about 12,000 evacuees.

Dozens of homes in parts of Northern Massachusetts exploded in fire on Thursday linked to gas service issues.  The homes were in the towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. Nearly a dozen people were injured. Police and emergency workers warned residents to immediately evacuate their homes if they smelled gas. The cause of the gas problems is not yet known. One fire chief told reporters, “I have been in the fire service for almost 39 years and I have never seen anything like this in my entire career. … It looked like Armageddon, it really did.” Authorities shut off power as a precaution and as of Thursday evening tens of thousands of homes had no electricity.

New Yorkers voted in a second round of primary elections on Wednesday picking incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo over newcomer and strong progressive Cynthia Nixon. Cuomo beat Nixon 65 to 35% to head toward a third term in office next year. The campaign got particularly ugly after Cuomo was caught sending out mailers to thousands of people claiming Nixon was anti-Semitic. Two other progressive candidates – Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor and Zephyr Teachout for Attorney General also lost their primary races albeit by smaller margins.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has turned over to the FBI a letter that she obtained relating to Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The Senator has so far refused to share it with her colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has raised tensions among Senators. The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim first reported on the document saying, “It purportedly describes an incident that was relayed to someone affiliated with Stanford University, who authored the letter and sent it to Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat who represents the area. Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter, and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school.” Democrats may be hoping for a delay in the confirmation process but so far there have been no developments. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has scheduled a confirmation vote on September 20th.

In the latest chapter of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into election wrongdoing, Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort appears to be near a plea deal. Manafort already faced one high profile trial and was convicted on multiple counts of fraud. The second set of charges were also expected to go to trial but now there may be a possible plea agreement. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday. According to CNN, in this second round of charges, “Manafort faces seven counts of foreign lobbying violations, money laundering conspiracy and witness tampering. The trial was likely to put on display the secret dealings of Washington’s lobbying and law firm elite.”

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, has written an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the President to be indicted. In his piece simply titled, “The Case for Indicting the President,” Avenatti wrote, “Provided there is sufficient evidence to support an indictment of President Trump — and there are many indications that there is — the special counsel, Robert Mueller, … should present their evidence to grand juries. Those jurors, citizens of our communities, should then determine whether the evidence supports an indictment of Mr. Trump.” He also raised the issue of Brett Kavanaugh serving on the court saying, “Should Mr. Trump be indicted and in the event that the case reaches the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh’s recusal should be mandatory. The American public’s view of impartiality of the rule of law and of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been hit with a setback to her political agenda. A federal judge on Wednesday ruled in a lawsuit against DeVos’s plan to roll back protections for students who were cheated by for-profit educational institutions. The judge called her reasoning, “arbitrary and capricious.”

A high-profile police shooting case in Chicago, Illinois has finished with jury selection. A white police officer named Jason Van Dyke is being charged with murder in the shooting of an African American 17-year old named Laquan McDonald. Video of the shooting shows Van Dyke shooting McDonald 6 times as he was walking away. According to Associated Press the jury is comprised of, “seven whites, three Hispanics, one African-American and one Asian-American.” Van Dyke’s lawyers have asked for the trial to be moved out of Chicago because of the intense media coverage of the shooting and of related protests. So far the judge has not agreed.

The US’s top Catholic leaders met with Pope Francis on Thursday in a high-profile but tense gathering at Vatican City centered on the bombshell reports of rampant pedophilia in the American Catholic church. During the meeting the Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of West Virginia and authorized an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Bransfield. But the American delegation was there to inquire into the Vatican’s promotion of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick who was the Archbishop of Washington, despite knowledge of McCarrick’s crimes. McCarrick and Bransfield are close associates. According to the New York Times, “The relentlessly spreading abuse scandal poses the greatest challenge that Pope Francis has faced to his papacy and legacy.”

A major conference on climate change began on Thursday in San Francisco under the leadership of California Governor Jerry Brown. The Global Climate Action Summit has drawn mayors, and other local leaders as well as corporate representatives from all over the US and other parts of the world. Seen as an extension of the United Nations Climate conferences, and as an open rebuke to President Donald Trump, the conference was also dogged by climate justice activists protesting outside. Many Californians are pointing to the hypocrisy of Gov. Brown claiming to be a climate leader while promoting fossil fuel extraction in the state. The Sacramento Bee pointed out that Brown has, “approved more than 200 new wells in state waters, and more than 23,000 oil and gas drilling permits overall, since he returned to the office nearly eight years ago.

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