10 things you need to know today: September 17, 2018

Kavanaugh's accuser goes public, Florence is downgraded but dangerous flooding continues, and more

Brett Kavanaugh on day one of his confirmation hearing
(Image credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Kavanaugh's accuser goes on the record with sexual misconduct allegation

Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor, has come forward as the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in an alleged incident that occurred when they were in high school. Ford told The Washington Post in an article posted Sunday that Kavanaugh pulled her into a bedroom at a gathering and pushed her onto a bed. She said he groped her through her clothes and tried to undress her, then put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream before she got away. Kavanaugh "categorically and unequivocally" denied the allegation, as did another man Ford said was in the room. Senate Democrats and Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called for delaying a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation but Republican leaders said they planned to move ahead.

The Washington Post CBS News

2. Florence flooding continues as death toll rises to 17

Former Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a tropical depression on Sunday but continued to drench the Carolinas, exposing more areas to life-threatening flooding. Florence's death toll rose to 17 as rivers and floodwaters continued to rise after the storm moved across South Carolina and up through western North Carolina. "The risk to life is rising with the angry waters," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. The storm hit some areas with more than 30 inches of rain. Flooding cut off access to the waterfront city of Wilmington and shut down sections of I-40 and I-95. "These rainfall amounts will produce catastrophic flash flooding, prolonged significant river flooding, and an elevated risk for landslides in western North Carolina and far southwest Virginia," the hurricane center warned.

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USA Today The Associated Press

3. FEMA chief defends Trump's questioning of Puerto Rico death toll

Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on Sunday defended President Trump's comment on the death toll for last year's Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. He said on CBS's Face the Nation that studies on the number of people killed by the storm "are all over the place." An independent study commissioned by Puerto Rico's government found that 2,975 more deaths than normal occurred on the island in the six months following the storm. A Harvard University study released in May estimated that the storm was responsible for more than 4,000 deaths. For months the Puerto Rican government put the official death toll at 64. Trump said the studies were "done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible." Long said on NBC's Meet the Press that he doesn't "know why the studies were done."

CBS News NBC News

4. South Korea says business leaders joining president for North Korea summit

South Korea announced Sunday that Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong and leaders of several other major South Korean companies would join the country's president, Moon Jae-In, as he travels to Pyongyang this week for his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Moon's government has been continuing a conciliatory approach as U.S. officials have chided North Korea for failing to follow through on denuclearization commitments Kim made to President Trump during their June summit. Moon has long advocated closer economic ties between the two Korean neighbors across their heavily fortified border. The summit starts Tuesday, and is scheduled to last three days.

The Japan Times

5. Residents allowed back into Massachusetts communities hit by gas explosions

Massachusetts authorities on Sunday allowed residents to return to three communities outside Boston for the first time since a series of gas explosions that set dozens of buildings on fire and killed one man. Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, which provides service in the communities, declined to comment on Sunday on the cause of the leaks. Federal investigators reportedly believe the blasts were caused by natural gas leaks from overpressurized lines. Local officials shut off electricity in the communities to prevent any more fires and evacuated about 8,000 homes and businesses after the explosions.


6. Thousands of Germans march to protest clearing of forest for coal mine

About 4,000 people on Sunday marched in western Germany to protest the expansion of a coal strip mine that would require the clearing of the ancient Hambach Forest. Environmentalists have chained themselves to tree trunks and treehouses in an effort to stop the work. Police moved in on Friday to start evicting people from about 60 treehouses that have been built in the forest over the last six years. Environmentalists have stepped up their efforts to call attention to the mine, which is operated by the energy company RWE, saying it is not consistent with Germany's promise to reduce carbon emissions and honor its commitments under the Paris climate accord.

The Associated Press The New York Times

7. Two more fall ill in English town where former Russian spy poisoned

Two people fell ill at a restaurant in Salisbury, the English city where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent, prompting local police to close roads into the town. Local police also called in an emergency response team, but later said they did not believe the illnesses were linked to Novichok. Investigators spent months searching quarantined properties after the Skripals were poisoned in March and nearly killed. More than three months later, a couple in a nearby town were sickened after being exposed to the same nerve agent, and one of them, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, died.

The Associated Press BBC News

8. Deadly Typhoon Mangkhut moves on to China

Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into China's Guangdong Province with top winds of 100 miles per hour on Sunday, killing at least four people in the country's most populous province after leaving behind devastation in Hong Kong, Macau, and the Philippines. More than 100,000 people were evacuated in the province, and the government set up thousands of shelters. The storm hit Hong Kong's harbor with 11-foot storm surges. It was downgraded from super typhoon status after killing dozens in the Philippines, where emergency workers recovered 43 bodies in a gold miners' bunkhouse destroyed by a mudslide. The typhoon is expected to weaken further as it pushes over mainland China. With 125 mph winds at its peak, the storm was the most powerful to hit the region this year.

The New York Times

9. New York-born Israel advocate killed in West Bank stabbing

Queens-born Israel advocate Ari Fuld, 45, died Sunday after reportedly being stabbed by a Palestinian teen in the West Bank. Witnesses said Fuld, who lived in Israel, was stabbed near the entrance to a mall. Video footage showed him chasing and shooting at his attacker, then collapsing. Other civilians also shot at the suspect, identified as 17-year-old Khalil Jabareen, who was wounded but reported to be in fair condition. Fuld was well-known on social media for his English-language commentary on current events and strong support for the Israel Defense Forces.

New York Post

10. Soon-Yi Previn breaks silence on husband Woody Allen and mother Mia Farrow

Soon-Yi Previn, estranged adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, gave her first real interview since her affair and subsequent marriage to Woody Allen, who had a long-term relationship with Farrow until she learned of the affair. Previn defended Allen in the article, which New York magazine posted online Sunday. "I was never interested in writing a Mommie Dearest, getting even with Mia — none of that," Previn said. "But what's happened to Woody is so upsetting, so unjust." Dylan Farrow, who has accused Allen of abusing her in 1992 when she was 7, and Ronan Farrow, who has written extensively on the #MeToo movement in The New Yorker, released separate statements defending their mother and criticizing the article as unfair.

The Associated Press Vulture

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.