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North Carolina trooper killed in traffic stop shooting

North Carolina trooper killed in traffic stop shooting

(CNN) - A North Carolina state trooper was fatally shot early Wednesday during a traffic stop in Columbus County, and a suspect is in police custody, authorities said. Trooper Kevin K. Conner died ... Continue Reading
A week after Hurricane Michael hit, more misery and a rising death toll

A week after Hurricane Michael hit, more misery and a rising death toll

(CNN) - A week after Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida Panhandle, the scope of the storm's fury is still emerging as the death toll rises and rescuers search for the missing in the hardest-hit areas.

Michael has killed at least 32 people across Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. Of those,15 are in Florida's Bay County, where the hurricane made landfall last week as a Category 4 storm.

Authorities fear some people who did not evacuate could be buried beneath piles of concrete, wood and mangled metal in Florida.

The Florida Department of Health provided an online form to report those who are still unaccounted for, trapped or in need of help. While the exact number of the missing was not immediately available, more details are expected to emerge as electricity and phone services are gradually restored across the Panhandle.

Rescuers are still finding bodies

Bay County, which was badly hit, has linked 15 deaths to the Category 4 storm, up from four Monday. Details on how the people died were not immediately available.

Sheriff's deputies said they're finding more victims as the waters recede, according to CNN affiliate WFLA.

Of the additional bodies found Tuesday, one was discovered by a K-9 in the Mexico Beach area while a drone unit found another one.

The mountain of debris scattered in neighborhoods is complicating rescue and recovery efforts. Across Bay County, more than 2,500 structures are damaged, and at least 162 have been destroyed, authorities said.

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said he does not have an accurate number of the missing people due to the lack of communications in affected areas.

Gov. Rick Scott's request for the county's transitional shelter has been approved, and federal officials will provide more options for families to stay, including hotel rooms, condos and other rentals.

Not everyone has seen what's left of their homes

In the obliterated town of Mexico Beach, some residents have visited their properties, surveyed the damage and retrieved some items. Many more are expected Wednesday.

While they aren't allowed to stay just yet, they can show the National Guard troops their IDs and visit their neighborhoods to get an idea of what it will take or if they want to rebuild.

In some neighborhoods, all that's left are concrete slabs and piles of wood, and residents have to guess the general location of where their homes once stood.

Chad Frazier has plenty of reasons to be devastated. His business was wiped out by the hurricane. His son's middle school in Panama City was also annihilated.

But Frazier said he is too thankful to be upset. Immediately after the hurricane, strangers came from out of town to provide food and water.

"The people who came, that was the biggest blessing to us," he said.

As he stood in front of a mountain of debris, Frazier said he's coping well, thanks to the outpouring of generosity.

"My shop is down, (but) I'm not in bad spirits," he said. "This just made my faith grow."

Cell phone service is trickling back on

After days of no cell reception, some residents were able to use their phones this week.

At Inlet Beach, near Panama City, excited drivers pulled over on the side of the road at the first sign of cell reception, CNN affiliate WEAR reported Tuesday. It said many of them hadn't had power and cell service for days.

In some areas, people used their cell phones for the first time when a company brought in a flying COW -- a Cell On Wings -- a drone that serves as an LTE site.

While service has resumed in some places, some still have no cell reception.

"Due to these outages, families are having a difficult time communicating with loved ones, first responders have faced challenges communicating and people are having difficulty getting their prescriptions filled because of the inability to connect to a network," Scott said Tuesday.

The governor demanded that telecommunications companies provide a restoration plan.

In addition to lack of cell service, more than 158,000 power customers didn't have electricity Tuesday -- nearly 140,000 of them in Florida.

Some still have no food or power

Residents in the hardest-hit areas are relying on airdropped food and water to survive.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has 12 teams in Florida to help people register for disaster assistance. It also has 42 distribution points throughout Florida and Georgia where people can get food and water.

About 1,200 people are in shelters, state officials said. Drivers have been lining up for hours to get fuel.

Some school districts are still closed

The Florida Department of Education said many schools in affected areas don't have power, and authorities are working to ensure it's restored quickly. As a result, several school districts are closed until further notice, including Bay, Calhoun and Washington. Florida State University's Panama City Campus is also closed until further notice.

Holmes School District reopens Wednesday.

Inmates have been evacuated

The Florida Department of Corrections announced evacuations of more than 4,000 inmates following structural damage to facilities caused by the hurricane.

They included the Bay Correctional Facility, which evacuated 959 inmates, while the Gulf Correctional Institution and Annex transferred 2,618 inmates to other facilities.

URGENT - North Carolina trooper killed in traffic stop shooting

URGENT - North Carolina trooper killed in traffic stop shooting

(CNN) -- A North Carolina state trooper was fatally shot early Wednesday during a traffic stop in Columbus County, authorities said. The suspect is in police custody.
For the first time, a woman is leading the largest command in the US Army

For the first time, a woman is leading the largest command in the US Army

(CNN) - Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson has succeeded in breaking through a few glass ceilings in the US Army. Now she's set to break a new one.

For the first time in US Army Forces Command, or FORSCOM, history, a woman will be leading the largest command in the Army, representing 776,000 soldiers and 96,000 civilians.

This may be a first for the Army, but Richardson has had other firsts.

She has been with the US Army since 1986, and in 2012 she became the first female deputy commanding general for the 1st Cavalry Division, known as "America's First Team."

In 2017, she became second in command to Gen. Robert B. Abrams, when she was named the first female deputy commanding general of FORSCOM in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the US Army reported.

Now, Richardson will become the first female commanding general of the US Army FORSCOM as Abrams steps down from his post, reported CNN affiliate WTVD.

On Tuesday, Abrams announced he would be leaving his post to become commander of United States Armed Forces Korea. The farewell message was tweeted by FORSCOM.

"It has been an honor to serve these last three years as the commanding general, US Army Forces Command," Abrams' message read.

Abrams also thanked FORSCOM soldiers for their work, as it increases "readiness of our Army across all three components -- regular Army, Army National Guard and US Army Reserve."

Richardson will serve as acting commander until a replacement for Abrams is named and confirmed to the rank of four-star general by the Senate.

"She will continue to be the deputy commander as well as the acting commander during this interim period," FORSCOM Director of Public Affairs Colonel Michael Lawhorn told CNN. "LTG Richardson is one of a number of highly qualified officers that are being considered as potential commanders for the Army's largest command."

Lawhorn also told CNN that during Tuesday's ceremony, General Mark A. Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, said a nominee has been identified but also clarified that Richardson's tenure would not be brief.

"I don't know how long it's going to be to be honest with you," Milley said, according to Lawhorn. "You're going to be in command of this command for a considerable amount of time."

In her career, Richardson has served as an Army aviator, as the military aide to the vice president and as one of the Army's liaison officers to the US Senate.

She blocked a black neighbor from entering their St. Louis building. Then she got fired

She blocked a black neighbor from entering their St. Louis building. Then she got fired

(CNN) - A white woman has been fired after video emerged of her confronting and blocking the entry of a black neighbor at a St. Louis apartment complex. "Please move, miss," the black resident, D' ... Continue Reading
5 things to know for October 17: Saudi Arabia, Michael, Brexit, marijuana, lotto

5 things to know for October 17: Saudi Arabia, Michael, Brexit, marijuana, lotto

(CNN) - Want to buy a castle? This French chateau will only cost you $58. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today ... Continue Reading
Feeling lucky? Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots combined are now more than $1.2 BILLION

Feeling lucky? Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots combined are now more than $1.2 BILLION

(CNN) - Good people of America, the dream is still alive.

There was no winner in Tuesday's Mega Millions lottery drawing.

That means the jackpot for Friday's drawing is now at least $868 million or a cash lump sum of $494.5 million. It will be the largest jackpot in the game's history and the second largest in the US lottery jackpot history.

The Mega Millions jackpot beat its own record once again after no ticket matched all the six numbers in the drawing Tuesday night. The winning numbers on Tuesday were 69, 45, 61, 3, 49, and the Mega Ball was 9.

Friday's Mega Millions along with Wednesday's Powerball jackpot, which stands at $345 million, are worth more than a cool billion dollars.

The reason these jackpots have ballooned to such monstrous proportions is because, well, no one has won in a while. According to a release from Mega Millions, the last Mega Millions jackpot was won July 24, netting 11 co-workers a combined $543 million. The last Powerball jackpot, which totaled $245.6 million, was won August 11 by a man in Staten Island, New York.

Believe it or not, this week's combined billion-dollar haul is not the biggest prize in the lottery's history. That honor goes to a 2016 Powerball jackpot, which clocked in at $1.586 billion (although it was shared by three winners).

Of course, the actual amount you'll win is considerably less than a billion dollars, not just because of taxes and annuities and fine print things. The amount you will win is likely $0, because the odds of winning either jackpot are one in several hundred million.

Sure sure, someone needs to win eventually, we know. But it's not going to be you.*

*OK, almost certainly not. But cheer up! There are often secondary prizes to these huge drawings that can be worth millions of dollars, and a shocking amount of them go unclaimed -- probably because people get too focused on the biggest possible way to win.

USA Gymnastics loses its 2nd president in 2 months

USA Gymnastics loses its 2nd president in 2 months

(CNN) - The revolving door of USA Gymnastics' top leadership keeps spinning as the organization struggles to recover from the Larry Nassar scandal.

Less than a week after taking over USAG, former US Rep. Mary Bono has resigned as interim president. That means four high-ranking officials have left USAG in the past six months -- even though most came on board after the Nassar sex abuse scandal.

Bono took the helm just a month after embattled president and CEO Kerry Perry quit. Perry, who had only been on the job for nine months, was criticized for what many considered to be inadequate action and boilerplate soundbites during the Nassar abuse fallout.

On Tuesday, four days after she started her new job, Bono announced her resignation.

"It is with profound regret, coupled with a deep love for the sport of gymnastics and respect for those who aspire to be great gymnasts, that I today tendered my resignation as the interim CEO of USA Gymnastics," Bono said in a statement.

"My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization."

Bono came under fire twice during her first few days leading USAG.

First, a tweet surfaced of Bono from September defacing a Nike logo after Nike featured former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign. (Nike is a huge sponsor of Olympic champion Simone Biles, the biggest star of USA Gymnastics.)

Biles called Bono out on her tweet.

"don't worry, it's not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything," Biles tweeted. Others said Bono's tweet was tone deaf, saying it was the suppression of athletes' voices that allowed Nassar's abuse to fester.

Bono deleted the tweet and said she regretted the post.

"I deeply regret posting the tweet because I respect everyone's views and their fundamental right to express them," Bono said in a statement Saturday.

"This in no way reflects how I will approach my position at USA Gymnastics. I will do everything I can to help change the culture and to work with the entire community to build an open, safe and positive environment."

After that, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman and others slammed USAG's decision to appoint Bono because she used to work for the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels. A former attorney for that firm helped USA Gymnastics craft false statements about Nassar, an investigation by The Indianapolis Star revealed.

Emails obtained by the Star show that attorney worked with Nassar on cover stories about why Nassar -- a former USA Gymnastics team doctor -- couldn't go to big events leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

They settled on excuses like Nassar was sick, or he was focusing on his private practice, the Star reported. But, in reality, Nassar was being investigated for child sex abuse.

Raisman lambasted the hiring of Bono in a series of tweets.

"My teammates & I reported Nassar's abuse to USAG in 2015. We now know USOC & lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels (Mary Bono's firm) were also told then, yet Nassar continued to abuse children for 13 months!? Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?" Raisman posted.

Faegre Baker Daniels released a statement to the Star, saying the firm actually helped report Nassar to the FBI in 2015 -- "a fact that refutes any claim of a cover up." It declined to comment further, citing client confidentiality.

USA Gymnastics clarified that Bono was not involved in working with Nassar during her time at Faegre Baker Daniels.

"Mary Bono worked at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, the legislative strategies and policies branch in Washington, D.C.," USA Gymnastics said in a statement Monday.

"Faegre Baker Daniels is a large, global firm that has a number of divisions and areas, and Mary was not involved in FBD's work with USA Gymnastics as counsel of record."

But attorney John Manly, who represented Nassar survivors, reiterated Bono's link to Faegre Baker Daniels.

"Selecting her as interim president was an insult to every survivor and shows a complete disregard for the safety of child athletes," Manly said in a statement.

"USA Gymnastics should be decertified immediately as the governing body for gymnastics in the US. It should be replaced by a body with credible/competent leadership that includes survivors. USAG is a disgrace to our current athletes, to the survivors and our nation."

The USA Gymnastics board of directors said Bono's resignation was "in the best interest of the organization."

"We remain steadfast in our efforts to fundamentally transform the organization at all levels to ensure athlete safety and well-being is at the heart of everything we do," the statement said.

"We are also committed to making sure that the focus remains on the athletes -- including this week as our men and women head to Doha to compete in the World Championships. While we have made progress, we have much more work to do. This board is determined to take the necessary steps to support a safe, inclusive and competitive environment where all our athletes and members can grow, have fun and achieve their goals."

The resignations of Bono and Perry are the latest in a series of high-profile departures from USA Gymnastics in recent months.

In August, after only three days on the job, elite development coordinator Mary Lee Tracy was asked to resign after she had "inappropriately contacted a [Nassar] survivor, who is also a represented plaintiff, in response to that survivor's public criticism of her," USAG said.

"We strongly believe in a culture that encourages our athletes and survivors to speak up and make their voices heard," USAG tweeted.

And in May, USAG said the head of its women's program, Rhonda Faehn, was no longer with the organization. Then-CEO Perry would not say whether Faehn was fired or resigned, calling Faehn's departure a "personnel matter that we will not discuss in detail."

One dead in Texas flooding

One dead in Texas flooding

(CNN) - One body was recovered Tuesday after floodwaters in Texas damaged homes and forced evacuations, authorities said.

The unidentified victim was found around noon in the Colorado River between the communities of Highland Haven and Kingsland, Burnet County Sheriff's Office Captain Tom Dillard said.

Heavy rainfall caused one river in the central Texas region to rise to a near-record level in about a day, leading to a bridge collapse, flooded homes and evacuations.

The Llano River rose to nearly 40 feet Tuesday in the city of Llano -- about 35 feet higher than it was just 24 hours earlier -- after 8 to 10 inches of rain fell in the area over the past two days, the National Weather Service said.

A few miles away, in Kingsland, the swollen river rushed against the top of the RM 2900 bridge for hours, eventually causing it to collapse, video from CNN affiliate KEYE showed. No one appeared to be on the bridge, and no injuries were immediately reported.

Video from Darlene Walthall also showed the river washing over the span before the collapse.

The Llano County Office of Emergency Management ordered people living within a quarter mile of the river to evacuate Tuesday morning.

The Llano River meets the Colorado River in Kingsland. Houses near the Colorado were flooded, resident Terri Kleen said. Video that she posted to Instagram showed water rising to the top of boat dock structures.

Law enforcement officers were helping people from flooded areas, she said.

Gov. Greg Abbot on Tuesday issued a state disaster declaration for 18 counties affected by the flooding, including Llano County.

"Texas is taking immediate action to respond to the threat of recent severe weather and flooding across the state," the governor said in a statement.

In nearby Marble Falls, Dale Heath recorded video of a car stuck in rushing water from a swollen Backbone Creek, a Colorado River tributary.

The flooded communities are about a 90-minute drive northwest of Austin.

The Llano River's crest of 39.91 feet in Llano was just below the record high of 41.5 feet there in June 1935.

The river is expected to recede through Tuesday afternoon, but should stay in the major flood stage -- over 23 feet -- though Wednesday morning.

Ohio police officer doesn't fire at 11-year-old with a BB gun, teaches him a lesson instead

Ohio police officer doesn't fire at 11-year-old with a BB gun, teaches him a lesson instead

(CNN) - Officer Peter Casuccio drew his service weapon as he approached two young boys suspected of having a gun and ordered them to show him their hands. A scared 11-year-old boy pulled out what ... Continue Reading
Hurricane Michael's devastation continues with more deaths reported in Florida

Hurricane Michael's devastation continues with more deaths reported in Florida

(CNN) - Six days after Hurricane Michael pulverized parts of the Florida Panhandle, officials had more grim and devastating news.

The death toll from the storm soared Tuesday to 19 in the state, with a dozen victims in hard-hit Bay County, according to authorities.

There were no details yet on how the people died, only that the county has tied the 12 deaths to the Category 4 storm, up from four reported deaths on Monday.

It appeared one of the newly reported deaths was a man whose body was discovered by a search dog in the decimated city of Mexico Beach.

Cpt. Virgil Watson of the sheriff's office in Jackson County, along the border with Alabama, said three people had been killed there.

In total, the storm has killed 29 people across four Southern US states, officials said.

Officials have said six people died in Virginia, three died in North Carolina and one person was killed in Georgia.

While most of Mexico Beach lies in ruins, many evacuated residents still haven't seen what's left of their homes. They've had to wait for authorities to secure the area and complete search-and-rescue efforts before returning home.

That will change Wednesday, when residents will be allowed back to Mexico Beach, city officials said.

So far, the numbers don't look good. Across Bay County, more than 2,500 structures are damaged, and at least 162 have been destroyed, Bay County Emergency Services said.

'We're just going to leave it'

Some Mexico Beach residents are cutting their losses and will start a new life elsewhere.

Joe Bush, who said he loved living there for 19 years, said he's decided to move. His house, furniture and vehicles were all heavily damaged by Michael

"I couldn't get nothing for this land now," Bush said. "People gonna be scared to death to come down here to buy and invest money. So we're just going to leave it."

But others, including Randy June, said Mexico Beach will always be his home -- even though his house is now a pile of rubble.

"We ain't going nowhere," he said. "We're going to rebuild somehow. I just don't know how yet."

Thousands still without power

More than 158,000 power customers didn't have electricity Tuesday, including nearly 140,000 customers in Florida.

The number of actual people without power is much higher, since a single customer can represent an entire household.

Drivers have been lining up for hours to get fuel. And residents in the hardest-hit areas are relying on airdropped food and water to survive.

As 4,000 Florida National Guard troops continue relief efforts, Gov. Rick Scott wrote a letter to their employers asking for patience and lauding the troops' bravery.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has 12 teams in Florida to help people register for disaster assistance. It also has 42 distribution points throughout Florida and Georgia where people can get food and water.

About 1,200 people are in shelters, state officials said.

FEMA said 16,000 federal employees, including over 8,000 military personnel, were helping with response efforts.

'Nobody was in tears about being hungry'

Chad Frazier has plenty of reasons to be devastated. His business was wiped out by the hurricane. His son's middle school in Panama City was also annihilated.

But Frazier is too thankful to be upset. Immediately after the hurricane, strangers came from out of town to provide food and water. They even beat FEMA to the scene, Frazier said.

"The people who came, that was the biggest blessing to us," he said. "I didn't see nobody in panic mode. Nobody was in tears about being hungry."

As he stood in front of a mountain of debris, Frazier said he's coping well thanks to the outpouring of generosity.

"My shop is down, (but) I'm not in bad spirits," he said. "This just made my faith grow."

A Jewish prayer book owned by Marilyn Monroe is going up for auction

A Jewish prayer book owned by Marilyn Monroe is going up for auction

(CNN) - Jewish prayer books can be found online for anywhere between $12 to $200, but one in New York could be worth thousands.

The book belonged to screen icon Marilyn Monroe, and it's going up for auction on November 12 by J. Greenstein & Co. auction house in Cedarhurst, New York.

Monroe, the famous 1950s sex symbol, model and star of films such as "Monkey Business" and "The Seven Year Itch," converted to Judaism in 1956 upon marrying playwright Arthur Miller.

According to the Jewish Museum in New York, Monroe took her conversion seriously, citing her relationship with the Millers' family rabbi, Robert E. Goldburg, as they used to study Judaic texts together.

"It's worn, there is no question about it. It has been clearly used," Jonathan Greenstein told CNN. He is the president and "expert-in-charge" at the auction house, which specializes in Judaic objects and art.

Jewish prayer books are also known as siddurs. Throughout the Monroe book are annotations in the margins reading "omit" and notes marking page numbers, although no one knows who wrote them.

With a starting price of $4,600, Greenstein expects the siddur to sell for anywhere between $7,000 and $12,000. The added value comes from Monroe owning it -- if the book hadn't been used by the actress, it would only be worth around $100, Greenstein said.

The cream-colored book was presented to her by the Avenue N Jewish Center in Brooklyn, which is believed to be Arthur Miller's former synagogue, according to Greenstein.

The siddur resurfaced in 1999 during a Christie's auction that sold a large amount of Monroe's estate.

In 2017, the prayer book went unsold in a Doyle auction. Greenstein is selling the book on the original owner's behalf by putting it up for auction in November.

Although Monroe's siddur is receiving most of the hype, it isn't the only item owned by a late Jewish celebrity to go up for auction next month.

A gold money clip decorated with a Jewish star and menorah that belonged to comedian Jerry Lewis will also be up for sale, Greenstein said.

Correction: This story has been updated to accurately reflect how Greenstein was able to resell the book.

Duck boat survivor Tia Coleman stunned by legal maneuver invoking 1851 law

Duck boat survivor Tia Coleman stunned by legal maneuver invoking 1851 law

(CNN) - Citing a maritime law from the 1850s, the companies that operated a duck boat that sank during a fierce storm in July, killing 17 people, have filed paperwork asking a federal court to rule t ... Continue Reading
Amber Alert issued for 13-year-old Wisconsin girl after parents found dead

Amber Alert issued for 13-year-old Wisconsin girl after parents found dead

(CNN) - A 13-year-old girl is missing and believed in danger after her parents were found slain in their northwestern Wisconsin home, authorities said.

An Amber Alert has been issued for Jayme Closs, whose parents were found dead in their home near Barron shortly after someone there called 911 early Monday, the Barron County Sheriff's Department said.

Investigators are trying to find out not only where Jayme is, but what led to her parents' deaths. They have searched the area around the home, including with drones and infrared, and have searched her school and interviewed her friends, officials said Tuesday.

Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, speaking at a press conference, described Jayme was a sweet and shy girl who enjoys dancing and sports. Fitzgerald said that Jayme attended a family gathering on Sunday afternoon and that he does not believe she ran away.

"Jayme is out there. We want to find her and that's our goal," Fitzgerald told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Diane Tremblay, Barron Area School District administrator, said Jayme is a "sweet girl who is a loyal friend and loves to dance."

Jayme runs on the cross country team, Tremblay said. When asked what she would do with $1 million on a recent school assignment, she wrote that she would "feed the hungry and give the rest to the poor."

During the 911 call Monday, the dispatcher heard a disturbance in the background but no one spoke directly to the dispatcher, Fitzgerald said.

When deputies arrived, they found Jayme's parents -- James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46 -- dead. Fitzgerald said he couldn't immediately say how the couple died, but gunshots were involved, WQOW reported.

Autopsies were to be conducted Wednesday, Fitzgerald said. It unclear how long the parents had been dead.

"We believe Jayme was in the house when this took place," Fitzgerald told CNN affiliate WCCO.

Fitzgerald declined to provide further information about the crime scene, and said the focus now is on locating the teen.

"Our number one goal is to bring Jayme home, and no amount of information will be given out unless we feel it's appropriate to help," he said.

Fitzgerald said authorities had received more than 200 tips by Tuesday afternoon.

"Every minute does count. That's why this operation is running 24/7," he said.

The FBI and Wisconsin Department of Justice were assisting in the investigation.

Jayme Closs is 5 feet tall, weighs 100 pounds and has green eyes and blond or strawberry hair, the sheriff's department said. Barron, a city of 3,400, is about 75 miles northeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Diplomatic showdown at the UN as Cuba interrupts US meeting

Diplomatic showdown at the UN as Cuba interrupts US meeting

(CNN) - This wasn't the "Missiles of October," the famed nuclear showdown between Cuba and the United States in 1962, but tensions between the two countries were impossible to ignore at the United Nations Tuesday afternoon.

A US event meant to highlight the plight of Cuba's political prisoners was drowned out by the noise of Cuban diplomats banging on tables and voices screaming, "Cuba yes, blockade no" across a large conference room, a reference to the US economic embargo against the island nation.

Cuban diplomats were using both hands to slap the rectangular table while others were yelling in Spanish, and although US Ambassador Kelley Currie repeatedly asked for security, officers stood watching the protest without intervening. Why? Because the protesters were accredited UN diplomats from Cuba, and yelling diplomats cannot be physically restrained based on UN security protocols.

The United States may be considered the most powerful member -- financially and diplomatically -- at the United Nations, but despite its status, security would not step into the fray.

The near 90-minute meeting was met with the sound of dissent by Cuban diplomats, with panelists trying their best not to acknowledge the uproar.

"I was ready to end the proceedings, but I'm damned if I'm going to do it for you. So I can sit here all day and let you shout yourselves silly," Ambassador Michael Kozak told the protesters. Kozak, of the US State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, moderated a panel after Currie's remarks.

"I have never in my life seen diplomats behave in the way the Cuban delegation did today," Currie, the US representative on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, told reporters after leaving the conference room, calling protesters actions "shocking and disturbing."

"It makes you wonder that if the diplomats of this government behave this way, how do the police behave?"

The "thuggish behavior" displayed by the diplomats has no place at the United Nations, Currie said, adding that the island nation and its diplomatic representatives should be ashamed of themselves.

The estimated 130 political prisoners held by the Cuban government are "an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the regime and represent a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support," the State Department said in a statement describing the event.

"Holding the Cuban regime responsible for its human rights violations and supporting the Cuban people's aspirations to live in freedom are key components of President Trump's National Security Presidential Memorandum of 2017."

Cuba forcefully objected to this meeting being called by the United States, appealing in vain in recent days to the United Nations, and writing a letter to the UN secretary-general.

The "Jailed for What?" event was an attempt by the United States to hoodwink the international community into ignoring its own human rights violations at home and abroad, a statement released by the Cuban Mission to the United Nations said.

The United States has a "pattern of systematic violations of all human rights," it said, citing torture of Guantanamo detainees, the murder of African-Americans at the hands of police officers, and imprisonment of immigrants.

The secretary-general of the Organization of American States, a former political prisoner, and the sister of a current political prisoner in Cuba comprised an expert panel in the meeting. But of all the words exchanged, the ambassador may be the only person who may want to retract her opening comments.

"Thank you for coming," Currie said, welcoming everyone to the event.

Detroit police open criminal investigation into former funeral home where fetus and infant remains found

Detroit police open criminal investigation into former funeral home where fetus and infant remains found

(CNN) - When state investigators acted on an anonymous tip leading them to a former funeral home in Detroit, they found what Police Chief James Craig could only describe as "deeply troubling."Afte ... Continue Reading
Cotton farmers say Hurricane Michael stole their crop of a lifetime. It could put them out of business for good

Cotton farmers say Hurricane Michael stole their crop of a lifetime. It could put them out of business for good

(CNN) - Every October, the fields along Highway 319 in southern Georgia look like clouds -- acres and acres of white, puffy cotton broken up by groves of pine trees.But not this year.The images ... Continue Reading
Maryland police officer charged with raping woman during traffic stop

Maryland police officer charged with raping woman during traffic stop

(CNN) - A Maryland police officer has been arrested and charged with rape after allegedly assaulting a woman during a traffic stop.

Ryan Macklin, a six-year veteran of the Prince George's County Police Department, was taken into custody Monday evening, according to a news release from the department.

He has been suspended without pay, the department said, and has been charged with first-degree rape, second-degree rape, perverted practice, second-degree assault and fourth-degree sex offense.

It was unclear whether Macklin has an attorney. Macklin was expected to appear in court via close circuit television on Wednesday.

Police said Macklin, 29, pulled the woman over at about 1 a.m. on Thursday.

The woman told police that the officer allegedly attempted to touch her breast before ordering her to move her car behind a store, according to charging documents. Behind the store, the officer allegedly forced the woman to perform oral sex on him and told her he wanted to have sex with her, the documents said.

The alleged assault was interrupted by a witness whom the woman had called earlier, the charging documents said. The officer returned to his cruiser and left the scene. The witness later corroborated some of the woman's account of the assault, which was also backed up by video evidence.

Police said Macklin was on duty and in uniform, and driving a marked police cruiser at the time.

Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said at a news conference that the woman came forward "several hours" after the incident with the encouragement of friends. Police said they do not know why Macklin allegedly targeted the driver.

"The charges against this officer are highly troubling," Stawinski said. "Officers take an oath to protect others, not to abuse their authority in order to victimize someone. Those who live and work in Prince George's County deserve the very best from the men and women of this department."

Stawinski said police have information that suggests "there may be additional people impacted by this officer's conduct." As a result, police ask anyone with information about this incident, Macklin or any related conduct to call 301-772-4795.

Macklin is assigned to the Bureau of Patrol, police said. According to the department's website, he was honored as patrol officer of the month at least two times in 2014, in March and September.

Hurricane Michael takes aim at 300-mile Gulf Coast target

Hurricane Michael takes aim at 300-mile Gulf Coast target

(CNN) - Hurricane Michael is poised to slam Florida's Panhandle by Wednesday afternoon, threatening dangerous storm surges to low-lying areas ill-equipped to handle them -- and officials are urging people to get out of the way now.

Michael, spinning in the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 storm Tuesday morning, is expected to strengthen even more before making landfall Wednesday, possibly as a Category 3.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called Michael a "monstrous storm" that could bring "total devastation" in and around the Panhandle area.

"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades," Scott said Tuesday morning.

"You cannot hide from storm surge, so ... get out if an evacuation is ordered," he said.

Tropical-storm-force winds will be felt in the area starting early Wednesday, and mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders already have been issued in at least 16 Florida counties along and near the state's Panhandle and Big Bend coasts.

Michael's core, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, was about 395 miles south of Panama City, Florida, as of 8 a.m. ET Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 40 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds outward up to 195 miles.

The main threats

The storm's center and where it makes landfall with its destructive winds represent just one of several concerns. Among them:

• Storm surges of 9 to 12 feet could slam the coast from roughly Apalachicola to Cedar Key, Florida, with only slightly lower surges farther to the west along the Panhandle coast. "That means the water will come miles in shore and could easily be over the roofs of houses," Scott said.

• Heavy rain and flooding are expected not just for Florida but also for other parts of the Southeast. Up to 12 inches of rain could fall in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend areas, southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia, while parts of the Carolinas and southern Virginia eventually could see up to 6 inches, the hurricane center said.

• Tornadoes could spawn as a result of the storm in the Southeast on Tuesday night into Thursday, forecasters said.

• Damaging winds are expected to rake not just Florida but also southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia. If Michael's core comes ashore as a Category 2 or higher, it would be the strongest storm in terms of wind speed to make landfall in the country this year.

"You will see damage to infrastructure. You will see power outages," Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Office of Response and Recovery, said Tuesday.

"#HurricaneMichael isn't heading to any one town ...," the National Weather Service tweeted Monday. "There are warnings for more than 300 miles of coastline. It's forecast to be a large and dangerous hurricane at landfall."

'We need the residents to be leaving today'

A hurricane warning is in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida. A hurricane watch is in effect for the coast of Alabama.

Meanwhile, tropical storm warnings extend from the Chassahowitzka River to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Tropical storm watches are in effect in some coastal areas of Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Storm surge warnings are also in place along the Florida and Alabama coasts.

"This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions," the hurricane center said.

US Rep. Neal Dunn, whose district includes Panama City, urged people under evacuation orders to get out before tropical-storm-force winds arrived. He especially focused on islands off the coast whose bridges may close as the storm approaches.

"You haven't got anywhere to go (if the bridges close)," he said Tuesday morning. "And then you're riding it out in your car instead of something else. So we need the residents to be leaving today ... because by this evening, those bridges are going to be in peril of being closed."

Some Florida counties ordered to evacuate

Floridians scurried to prepare after Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,000 National Guardsmen for hurricane duty.

The governor declared states of emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Citrus, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union, Bradford and Baker counties.

Mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders were issued along the Florida Panhandle, and Scott said on Twitter he has directed the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend tolls in the northwest Florida region.

The Florida Highway Patrol is sending nearly 350 state troopers to the Panhandle and Big Bend areas in preparation for the storm, he said.

Alabama prepares for widespread power outages

In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency, saying on Twitter that it was "in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds & heavy rain associated with #HurricaneMichael."

The governor's declaration activates the state's emergency operations plan, according to Ivey's office.

"I am concerned about the cone of uncertainty as Hurricane Michael is leaning west today," Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings said in a statement Monday. "Residents and businesses in coastal Alabama must be vigilant and closely monitor the storm's path and be prepared for a major hurricane."

Deaths in Central America

Michael has been lashing western Cuba as it churned toward the United States. Up to 12 inches could fall there, threatening flash floods and mudslides, the hurricane center said Tuesday.

Over the weekend, flooding related to Michael led to at least 13 deaths in the Central American countries of Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador, according to officials.

New York disaster raises questions about limousine safety

New York disaster raises questions about limousine safety

(CNN) - These kinds of limos have worried safety experts for years: regular SUVs that have been jacked up, stretched out and converted into limousines.

A limo like that -- a converted 2001 Ford Excursion -- crashed in upstate New York over the weekend, killing 20 people.

It's unclear whether the limo's modification or some other factor contributed to the mass tragedy. In a statement Monday, Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service, which operated the vehicle, said it is "performing a detailed internal investigation to determine the cause of the accident and the steps we can take in order to prevent future accidents."

Still, officials say it's time to examine whether regulations on limousines are sufficient.

"This does need to be a wake-up call," said Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. "Here we have 20 lives that have been lost. ... We do need to learn from this."

Sumwalt said the NTSB will look into whether regulations on limousines are adequate.

Converted limos that started out as smaller vehicles do pose some risks, former NTSB managing director Peter Goelz said.

"It's been a source of concern to the NTSB for years," he said. "The after-market adjustments that they make to these cars -- lengthening them, raising them -- often affects the structural integrity and the safety."

Regardless of whether a limo had been modified, there is a prevailing concern among some safety experts: rear passengers in limos are not required to wear seat belts.

"That's going to be revisited," Goelz said. "This accident -- it is such a horrific (death) toll. I would say this is going to be a watershed event for the limousine industry. There are seat belts in the back -- they're required to be -- but you're not required to wear them. ... So the rule may very well change in the near future."

But it's still too early to blame any single factor for the 20 deaths in New York.

"There's going to be two main areas of this investigation. One is the human side, the driver. Was he certified to drive this kind of vehicle? Was he under any kind of impairment -- drug, alcohol or even fatigue? And was he in a rush?" Goelz said.

"And then they're going to look at the vehicle. Was the interior of the vehicle designed in such a way that cause(s) injury? There's a lot to unpack in this investigation."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the type of limousine involved. The vehicle was a Ford Excursion.