AP Top News at 11:54 p.m. EST
SELMA, Ala. (AP) — A giant, swirling storm system billowing across the South on Thursday killed at least six people in central Alabama, where a tornado ripped roofs off homes and uprooted trees in historic Selma, while another person was killed in Georgia, where severe winds knocked out power to tens of thousands of people. In Autauga County, Alabama, 41 miles (66 kilometers) northeast of Selma, at least six fatalities were confirmed and an estimated 40 homes were damaged or destroyed by a tornado that cut a 20-mile (32-kilometer) path across two rural communities, said Ernie Baggett, the county’s emergency management director.
Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley and a singer-songwriter dedicated to her father’s legacy, died Thursday after being hospitalized for a medical emergency. She was 54. Her death in a Los Angeles hospital was confirmed by her mother, Priscilla, a few hours after her daughter was rushed to the hospital by paramedics after a medial episode at her home. “It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us,” Priscilla Presley said in a statement. “She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.” Presley shared her father’s brooding charisma — the hooded eyes, the insolent smile, the low, sultry voice — and followed him professionally, releasing her own rock albums in the 2000s, and appearing on stage with Pat Benatar and Richard Hawley among others.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed a special counsel to investigate the presence of classified documents found at President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at an unsecured office in Washington dating from his time as vice president. Robert Hur, a onetime U.S. attorney appointed by former President Donald Trump, will lead the investigation and plans to begin his work soon. His appointment marks the second time in a few months that Garland has appointed a special counsel, an extraordinary fact that reflects the Justice Department’s efforts to independently conduct high-profile probes in an exceedingly heated political environment.
BEIJING (AP) — China’s trade surplus swelled to a record $877.6 billion last year as exports rose 7% despite weakening U.S. and European demand and anti-virus controls that temporarily shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers. Exports increased to $3.95 trillion, decelerating from 2021′s explosive 29.9% gain, customs data showed Friday. Imports edged up 1.1% to 2.7 trillion, cooling from the previous year’s 30.1% rise as growth in the world’s second-largest economy slowed. The country’s politically volatile global trade surplus expanded by 29.7% from 2021′s record, already the highest ever for any economy. “China’s foreign trade and exports showed strong resilience in the face of many difficulties and challenges,” said a customs agency spokesperson, Lu Daliang, at a news conference.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lindsy Doan didn’t think the water flowing over the creek crossing on San Marcos Road was deeper than normal when she tried navigating it in her SUV while driving her 5-year-old son to school. But the creek, swollen with rain from California’s epic winter storms, was much higher and flowing stronger than she anticipated. Doan cursed as she lost control of the steering, and the 4,300-pound (1,950-kilogram) Chevy Traverse was carried off the road and pinned against a large sycamore tree. “Mom, it’s OK,” her son, Kyle, reassured her from the back seat. “Just be calm.” They were the last words the little boy said to his mother before his fingers slipped away from hers and he was swept away Monday on California’s central coast near Paso Robles.
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese prosecutors are expected to formally charge the suspect in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with murder on Friday, his lawyer said. Tetsuya Yamagami was arrested immediately after allegedly shooting Abe with a handmade gun as the former leader was making a campaign speech in July outside a train station in Nara in western Japan. Later that month, Yamagami was sent to an Osaka detention center and given a five-month mental evaluation, which ended Tuesday. Yamagami is now back in police custody in Nara after reportedly being deemed fit to stand trial. One of his lawyers, Masaaki Furukawa, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he expects prosecutors to charge Yamagami with murder and gun control law violations.
MIAMI (AP) — The Coast Guard returned another 177 Cuban migrants who were caught at sea off Florida to the island on Thursday, while a group of about two dozen Haitians swam ashore in Miami. The Cuban migrants were all intercepted separately off the coast earlier this month, according to a Coast Guard news release. They were repatriated by two Coast Guard cutters. Twenty-five Haitians who had traveled by sailboat from Port-de-Paix, Haiti, swam ashore at Virginia Key, a small island just southeast of downtown Miami, and were taken into the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, agency spokesman Michael Selva said.
DENVER (AP) — Earth’s fever persisted last year, not quite spiking to a record high but still in the top five or six warmest on record, government agencies reported Thursday. But expect record-shattering hot years soon, likely in the next couple years because of “relentless” climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas, U.S. government scientists said. Despite a La Nina, a cooling of the equatorial Pacific that slightly reduces global average temperatures, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculates 2022’s global average temperature was 58.55 degrees (14.76 degrees Celsius), ranking sixth hottest on record. NOAA doesn’t include the polar regions because of data concerns, but soon will.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will deliver a final send-off for Cardinal George Pell during a funeral Mass on Saturday, the Vatican said, as revelations emerge of the Australian prelate’s growing concern about what he considered the “disaster” and “catastrophe” of the papacy under Francis. The Vatican on Thursday said the dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, would celebrate Pell’s funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. As is custom for cardinal funerals, Francis will deliver a final commendation and salute. Pell, who had served as Francis’ first finance minister for three years before returning to Australia to face child sex abuse charges, died on Tuesday at a Rome hospital of heart complications following hip surgery.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Justice Department accused Los Angeles-based City National Bank on Thursday of discrimination by refusing to underwrite mortgages in predominately Black and Latino communities, requiring the bank to pay more than $31 million in the largest redlining settlement in department history. City National is the latest bank in the past several years to be found systematically avoiding lending to racial and ethnic minorities, a practice that the Biden administration has set up its own task force to combat. The Justice Department says that between 2017 and 2020, City National avoided marketing and underwriting mortgages in majority Black and Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles County.