Hurricane warning downgraded for Hawaii’s Big Island


Hurricane warning downgraded for Hawaii’s Big Island

HILO, Hawaii

Forecasters on Wednesday downgraded Hurricane Madeline to a tropical storm as it veered past Hawaii’s Big Island, but officials reiterated warnings to prepare for heavy rain and strong winds.

The National Weather Service downgraded the storm as its winds decreased to 70 mph. Its center wasn’t expected to make landfall on any Hawaiian island.

Still, the Big Island and Maui County were under tropical storm warnings.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane,” said Eric Lau, a meteorologist with the weather service. “If you have 70 mph winds versus 75 mph winds, it’s still a strong storm, so residents still need to be prepared.”

Commercial flight from United States lands in Cuba

SANTA CLARA, Cuba

The first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than a half century landed in the central city of Santa Clara on Wednesday morning, re-establishing regular air service severed at the height of the Cold War.

Cheers broke out in the cabin of JetBlue flight 387 as the plane touched down. Passengers – mostly airline executives, U.S. government officials and journalists, with a sprinkling of Cuban-American families and U.S. travelers – were given gift bags with Cuban cookbooks, commemorative luggage tags and Cuban flags, which they were encouraged to wave.

The arrival of the flight out of Fort Lauderdale opens a new era of U.S.-Cuba travel with about 300 flights a week connecting the U.S. with an island cut off from most Americans by the 55-year-old trade embargo on Cuba and formal ban on U.S. citizens engaging in tourism on the island.

Ban on gun sales to marijuana card holders upheld

SAN FRANCISCO

A federal ban on the sale of guns to medical marijuana card holders does not violate the Second Amendment, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals applies to the nine Western states that fall under the court’s jurisdiction, including California, Washington and Oregon.

It came in a lawsuit filed by S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada woman who said she tried to buy a firearm for self-defense in 2011 after obtaining a medical marijuana card. The gun store refused, citing the federal rule banning the sale of firearms to illegal drug users.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

US evaluates Taliban video of captive couple

KABUL, Afghanistan

The State Department says it’s evaluating a video released by the Afghan Taliban showing a Canadian man and his American wife warning that their Afghan captors will kill them and their children unless the Kabul government ends its executions of Taliban prisoners.

The video, which has not been independently verified by The Associated Press, shows Canadian Joshua Boyle and American Caitlan Coleman, who were kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2012, calling on Canada and the United States to pressure the Afghan government into changing its policy on executing captured Taliban prisoners.

Coleman has told her family that she gave birth to two children in captivity.

Associated Press

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