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HomeUS NewsMaui wildfire recovery; Perseid meteor shower : NPR

Maui wildfire recovery; Perseid meteor shower : NPR


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Today’s top stories

Officials say it could take years to repair the wildfire damage in Hawaii. Gov. Josh Green said that the fires were the “greatest emergency we’ve seen in decades” and warned the death toll would continue to rise. At least 55 people have died. Satellite images before and after the fires show the extent of the destruction.

An aerial view shows the historic banyan tree, along with destroyed homes, boats and buildings in the historic Lahaina town in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui on Thursday.

Patric T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images


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Patric T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images


An aerial view shows the historic banyan tree, along with destroyed homes, boats and buildings in the historic Lahaina town in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui on Thursday.

Patric T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

  • Communication challenges have made it difficult for officials to nail down the number of missing or dead people and how many houses have been destroyed, Hawaii Public Radio’s Bill Dorman says on Up First today. President Biden issued a federal disaster declaration for the state, and the governor says the money will be targeted toward critical housing needs.
  • On Morning Edition, FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell says the organization’s focus right now is on saving lives and making sure no one is unaccounted for. Despite the devastation, Criswell says the “great human spirit and collaboration of people” gives her hope.
  • Amid the destruction in Lahaina, the town’s historic banyan tree stands tall. 

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to review a controversial bankruptcy deal involving Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family. The deal would have allowed members of the Sackler family — who are not bankrupt — to pay a $6 billion settlement in exchange for immunity from future opioid lawsuits. Until Justices hear arguments in December, opioid victims won’t receive settlements from the deal.

  • Most people who have suffered opioid addictions or lost loved ones to Oxycontin supported the deal, NPR’s addiction correspondent Brian Mann says. But he says the Justice Department argues that if the deal is upheld, it could encourage more wealthy corporations to misuse the bankruptcy system. The court’s decision could affect similar bankruptcy cases. 

Four Iranian American dual citizens held in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison were transferred to house arrest in a hotel yesterday as negotiations for their return continue. A fifth American, who was already on house arrest, is included in the negotiations. Their freedom will be granted in exchange for Iranians held in the U.S. and the release of roughly $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds, according to several people familiar with the deal.

  • Jared Genser represents the family of Siamak Namazi, one of the longest-held Americans. Namazi told Genser last night he was in good spirits but is aware it’s not over until the plane leaves Iranian airspace. Genser adds on Morning Edition that the U.S. policy toward freeing American hostages held abroad has been inconsistent, and the country needs to change its “entire approach” and disincentivize other governments from engaging in hostage-taking.

From our hosts

Ohio voters defeated Issue 1 in a special election with higher than expected turnout for an August election day.

Samantha Hendrickson/AP


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Samantha Hendrickson/AP


Ohio voters defeated Issue 1 in a special election with higher than expected turnout for an August election day.

Samantha Hendrickson/AP

This essay is written by Sarah McCammon, who is guest hosting Morning Edition this week. She is a national political correspondent and co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion policy and the intersections of politics and religion.

In another hopeful sign for Democrats who believe abortion will drive their voters to the polls next year, Ohioans this week rejected a Republican-led effort to make it harder to change their state constitution. That proposal would have raised the threshold for voters to approve an amendment protecting abortion rights that’s slated to be on the November ballot.

Abortion rights supporters were encouraged by success at the ballot box last year when voters chose to protect abortion rights in several states – including traditionally conservative states like Kansas and Kentucky.

When I was in Kentucky reporting on this issue last year, I spent time with abortion rights supporters in Louisville last year as they talked with voters. I heard some of them framing the debate in terms designed to appeal to undecided voters who might have misgivings about abortion while worrying that new restrictions were going too far. One woman cited her own medically complex pregnancy.

That kind of messaging is unsatisfying for some abortion rights advocates who argue that focusing on exceptions for situations like rape, incest, or medical emergencies exacerbates stigma and ignores the limitations of those exceptions. But it may be an effective approach in states where advocates see ballot measures as a powerful tool for pushing back against anti-abortion legislation — particularly when those laws are not aligned with public opinion.

The vote in Ohio seems likely to bolster that strategy.

Weekend picks

Justin H. Min and Sherry Cola in Shortcomings.

Jon Pack/Sony Pictures Classics


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Jon Pack/Sony Pictures Classics


Justin H. Min and Sherry Cola in Shortcomings.

Jon Pack/Sony Pictures Classics

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: Randall Park’s comedy Shortcomings follows Ben, who has to face insecurities tied to his Asian American identity when he and his girlfriend take a hiatus from their relationship. The film has a lot to say about interracial dating and intraracial conflict.

TV: Oh, to be young and in love. To my fellow softhearted people: catch up on Netflix’s Heartstopper for your teenage queer rom-com fix.

Books: Oscar-winning actress Jamie Lee Curtis has a new book out. Curtis says the climate crisis inspired Mother Nature, an eco-horror screenplay adapted into a graphic novel.

Music: Today marks hip-hop’s 50th birthday. NPR music’s playlist charts the genre’s history and impact across more than a dozen cities.

Quiz: I hope this week’s newsletters have prepared you well for the NPR news quiz. Good luck out there!

3 things to know before you go

In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Spruce Knob, West Virginia.

NASA/Bill Ingalls/(NASA/Bill Ingalls)


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NASA/Bill Ingalls/(NASA/Bill Ingalls)


In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Spruce Knob, West Virginia.

NASA/Bill Ingalls/(NASA/Bill Ingalls)

  1. Grab a chair and a fun drink and go outside this weekend. The Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend — and it’s going to be a good one because the crescent moon won’t interfere with your view.
  2. NPR critic Eric Deggans built a career around explaining race and racism. But he “hit a wall” when people asked him to explain the memes he shared about the Montgomery Riverfront brawl. He writes that the memes let people be “hilariously Black online” and console one another and that sometimes, understanding comes from sitting back.
  3. The Emmy Awards will now air on Jan. 15 instead of September due to the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strike. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.



This story originally appeared on NPR

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