US heat wave just warming up

DETROIT — The heat wave that has been roasting much of the U.S. in recent days is just getting warmed up, with temperatures expected to soar to dangerous levels through the weekend. Communities are preparing by offering buildings as cooling centers and asking residents to check in on relatives and neighbors. Officials also are concerned about smog, which is exacerbated by the heat and makes it more difficult for certain people to breathe, including the very young, the elderly and people with asthma or lung diseases. More than 100 local heat records are expected to fall Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Most won’t be record-daily highs but record-high nighttime lows, and that lack of cooling can be dangerous, meteorologists say. Temperatures in parts of the East won’t drop below the mid- to upper-70s or even 80 degrees at night, he said. The heat wave will likely be “short and searing,” said Greg Carbin, forecast branch chief for the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center. A high pressure system stretching from coast-to-coast is keeping the heat turned on. The heat and humidity are made to feel worse by the large amount of moisture in the air coming from the Gulf of Mexico, much of it left over from Hurricane Barry. The heat index, which is what the temperature feels like, should hit 110 in Washington, D.C., on Saturday and 109 in Chicago and Detroit on Friday, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of Weather Underground. Wednesday marked Washington’s seventh straight day with temperatures of at least 90 degrees , and that streak was expected to last for another five days. An experimental weather service forecast projects that nearly 100 local records will be broken Thursday and Friday in Texas, Oklahoma, parts of the Midwest and a large swath of the East Coast. On Saturday, 101 records could fall in an area stretching from Texas to Iowa and east to Maine and Florida, according to projections.

Number of OD deaths falling

NEW YORK — U.S. overdose deaths last year likely fell for the first time in nearly three decades, preliminary numbers suggest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday posted data showing nearly 68,000 drug overdose deaths were reported last year. The number may go up as more investigations are completed, but the agency expects the tally will end up below 69,000. Overdose deaths had been climbing each year since 1990, topping 70,000 in 2017. The numbers were celebrated by the U.S. secretary of health and human services. “Lives are being saved, and we’re beginning to win the fight against this crisis,” Alex Azar wrote in a tweet. But the overdose death rate is still about seven times higher than it was a generation ago.

Netflix 2Q dud rattles investors

SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix’s video streaming service suffered a dramatic slowdown in growth during its traditionally sluggish spring season, a drop-off coming as the company boosts its prices and girds for even stiffer competition. The service picked up 2.7 million worldwide subscribers for the April-June period. That’s far below Netflix’s forecast of 5 million subscribers. The second-quarter letdown announced Wednesday comes after Netflix attracted nearly 10 million subscribers during the first three months of the year , more than any other quarter since the debut of its video streaming service 12 years ago. The slowdown rattled investors already wondering how Netflix might fare against a new wave of competition coming this fall when both Walt Disney Co. and Apple plan to launch their own video streaming services. After the second-quarter numbers came out, Netflix’s stock plunged 12% in extending trading. If that sell-off is replicated in Thursday’s regular trading session, it will be the largest decline in Netflix’s stock price in three years and wipe out $18 billion in shareholder wealth. Netflix ended June with 151.6 million worldwide subscribers, far more than a current crop of video streaming rivals.

Prosecutors drop Spacey case

BOSTON — Prosecutors dropped a case Wednesday accusing Kevin Spacey of groping a young man at a resort island bar in 2016 after the accuser refused to testify about a missing cellphone the defense says contains information supporting the actor’s claims of innocence. Spacey was charged with indecent assault and battery last year in the only criminal case that has been brought against the actor since his career collapsed amid a slew of sexual misconduct allegations. The two-time Oscar winner was among the earliest and biggest names to be ensnared in the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment that swept across the entertainment and other industries. Spacey denies groping the man, whose mother first went public with the allegations in 2017. A phone message seeking comment was left with Spacey’s lawyer. The actor’s accuser was ordered to take the stand earlier this month after he said he lost the cellphone he used the night of the alleged groping. The defense said it needed the phone to recover deleted text messages it says would help Spacey’s case.

89 baby birds getting help

OAKLAND, Calif. — An animal rescue group is asking for help caring for 89 baby snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons left homeless last week after a tree fell in downtown Oakland. International Bird Rescue said it needs donations and volunteers to help feed and care for the baby birds rescued after an old ficus tree serving as a rookery split in half and partially fell last week, said JD Bergeron, the group’s executive director. The group is caring for 89 young birds and eggs rescued from the tree including, 50 snowy egrets and 22 black-crowned night herons. It also rescued 17 eggs that need intensive care and round-the-clock support. Another 20 birds died.s

El Chapo sentenced to life

NEW YORK — Mexican drug kingpin and escape artist Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced Wednesday to life behind bars in a U.S. prison, expressing no remorse over his conviction for a massive drug conspiracy that spread murder and mayhem for more than two decades. Instead, a defiant Guzman took a parting shot at a judge in federal court in Brooklyn by accusing him of making a mockery of the U.S. justice system in refusing to order a new trial based on unsubstantiated allegations of juror misconduct. “My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching,” Guzman said through an interpreter. Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where inmates are held alone for 23 hours a day and have little human interaction. “Since the government will send me to a jail where my name will not ever be heard again, I take this opportunity to say there was no justice here,” he said.

6-year-old killed by golf shot

OREM, Utah — Relatives of a 6-year-old Utah girl who died after her father accidentally struck her with a golf ball are remembering her as a loving, playful child. Aria Hill’s uncle David Smith described her as a happy child who greeted strangers and enjoyed spending time with her parents. Smith said she went golfing often with her father and that it was one of their favorite activities to do together. Police say the ball struck Hill in the back of the head on Monday morning, while the father and daughter were out golfing with Hill’s uncle, Brayden Hill, at Sleepy Ridge Golf Course in Orem. “A complete, fluke accident — you couldn’t repeat it if you tried,” Smith said “She just happened to be in the exact wrong place, just directly across from him, when it happened.” The ball hit the base of her neck. Steven Marett, the head golf professional at the course, said he has seen people occasionally get hit by balls but he had never heard of guests getting seriously injured or killed. “This is absolutely unimaginable, and it’s been devastating,” Marett said.

Hawaii protesters press on

HONOLULU — Thousands of protesters joined a swelling effort Wednesday to stop construction of a telescope they have long tried to keep off a mountain considered sacred to some Native Hawaiians, blocking a road to Hawaii’s highest peak and prompting the arrest of a group of elderly demonstrators. Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe said about 2,000 people packed the base of Mauna Kea after the arrests, more than three times the number of protesters who had showed up in previous days. Police in riot gear temporarily lined the road to the top of the Big Island mountain, which is valued by astronomers for its consistently clear weather and minimal light pollution and the site for the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, expected to be one of the world’s most advanced. Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta told The Associated Press that police took away about 30 elders who were prepared to be arrested as they blocked the road.

Trump slams congresswomen

GREENVILLE, N.C. — A combative President Donald Trump rallied Republican supporters Wednesday in North Carolina, harshly criticizing four fiery, left-wing congresswoman of being un-American and claiming they are the face of the Democratic Party that will ruin the country. “I think in some cases they hate our country,” Trump said to the crowd in North Carolina, a swing state he won in 2016 and wants to win again next year. Trump’s jabs were aimed at the four freshman Democrats, self-described as “the squad,” who have garnered attention since their arrival in January for their outspoken liberal views and distaste for Trump: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All were born in the U.S. except for Omar, who came to the U.S. as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family. Trump recently tweeted that the Democratic congresswomen of color should “go back” to their home countries — though three were born in the United States.

Gender-specific words banned

BERKELEY, Calif. — Berkeley, California, has adopted an ordinance to replace some terms with gender-neutral words in the city code. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Wednesday that “she” and “he” will be replaced by “they.” The words “manpower” and “manhole” will become “workforce” and “maintenance hole.” The City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed the measure to replace more than two dozen commonly used terms. There will be no more “craftsmen” in city code, only “craftspeople” or “artisans.” Berkeley has a long history of leading on politically and socially liberal issues. The sponsor of the ordinance is councilman Rigel Robinson, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He says his time in college expanded his awareness of gender issues. Robinson says critics suggested the council spend time on more important matters.

Owners of record-setting cats sue

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — The suburban Detroit owners of two record-setting cats killed in a house fire have filed a lawsuit blaming the maker of a massage chair for the blaze. William and Lauren Powers of Farmington Hills seek more than $1 million in damages from Fremont, Calif.-based American Crocodile International Group Inc. The couple claims the chair was defective, malfunctioned and caused the 2017 fire. At the time, Arcturus Aldebaran Powers held the Guinness World Records mark for tallest domestic cat, measuring about 19 inches. Cygnus Regulus Powers held the record for the domestic cat with the longest tail, measuring more than 17 inches. The lawsuit claims the cats were like children to the couple.

House holds two in contempt

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled House voted Wednesday to hold two top Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas related to a decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The House voted, 230-198, to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt. The vote, a political blow to the Trump administration, is largely symbolic because the Justice Department is unlikely to prosecute the two men. The action marks an escalation of Democratic efforts to use their House majority to aggressively investigate the inner workings of the Trump administration. Four Democrats opposed the contempt measure: Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania and Jared Golden of Maine. All but Lamb are in their first term and all represent swing districts. Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican, supported the contempt measure. President Donald Trump abandoned the citizenship question last week after the Supreme Court said the administration’s justification for the question “seems to have been contrived .” Trump directed agencies to try to compile the information using existing databases.

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