Kilauea erupts from summit » Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted from its summit on Thursday, shooting a plume of ash high into the sky. A spokeswoman for Hawaii County Mayor Janet Snyder explained:
SNYDER: This morning, a little bit after 4 a.m., around 4:15, there was a short-lived explosion but a pretty powerful one; put a cloud up to 30-thousand feet above sea level.
The explosion followed two weeks of volcanic activity. More than a dozen fissures east of the crater have already spewed lava into neighborhoods, destroying dozens of homes and structures.
Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate the area. And General Kenneth Hara of the Hawaii National Guard said many more people might have to evacuate the Big Island’s Puna district if lava covers major roads.
HARA: Worst case, what we’re told is plan for about a thousand. But some of that, what they don’t know is some of the population may elect to stay there because they’re so self-sufficient.
In addition to the lava, officials are concerned about high levels of toxic gas in the air. It’s not clear when the eruptions will stop.
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA director » The U.S. Senate has approved Gina Haspel as the next director of the CIA.
AUDIO: The ayes are 54. The nays are 45, and the nomination is confirmed.
That vote taking place Thursday afternoon. Six Democratic senators joined most Republicans in supporting Haspel. GOP Senators Jeff Flake and Rand Paul voted “no.” Arizona Republican John McCain was absent, but previously urged colleagues to vote against Haspel. They joined many Democrats in voicing concern about her history with so-called enhanced interrogation tactics like waterboarding. But Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said …
BURR: Most of us, though, are looking toward the agency’s future. Avril Haines, Meroe Park and many others who have served or are currently serving have cracked the glass ceiling at the agency. Gina is poised to break it.
Haspel has been with the spy agency for 33 years and will become the C-I-A’s first female director.
Mueller Russia probe reaches one-year mark » It’s now been one year since the Justice Department appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead an independent probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any possible ties to the Trump campaign.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters:
SANDERS: The president knows that there was no collusion in the campaign, and he has been quite clear about this. It’s gone on for over a year. They’ve found no evidence of collusion.
On Twitter Thursday, President Trump called the investigation “the greatest witch hunt in American history.” But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer fired back:
SCHUMER: It’s not a witch hunt when 17 Russians have been indicted. It’s not a witch hunt when some of the most senior members of the Trump campaign have been indicted.
But the indictments of people connected to the Trump campaign do not show collusion and some involve crimes entirely unrelated to the Russia probe.
Mueller’s team has said President Trump is not a target of the investigation.
But a statement from the Senate Intelligence Committee this week backed up the investigation’s legitimacy. The top two lawmakers on the committee said Wednesday its interim findings suggest Russia did interfere in the 2016 election in an attempt to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
Democrats try to revive net neutrality » Democrats in the Senate this week, with the help of three Republicans, voted to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules. WORLD Radio’s Jim Henry has more.
JIM HENRY, REPORTER: The Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality regulations in December. The Senate bill, which passed 52-to-47, would bring them back.
The rules were intended to prevent internet service providers from slowing traffic on certain websites and favoring their own sites and apps. Supporters say the rules protect consumers. Opponents say the regulations are unnecessary and reduce innovation and competition.
The Senate bill is likely dead on arrival in the House, but Democrats said they hope that by reviving the issue, it will energize young voters to back candidates who support net neutrality in midterm elections.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Jim Henry.
Ebola reaches urban area in Congo » The latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has spread to the city of Mbandaka, home to more than 1 million people.
Health officials have confirmed at least one case of Ebola in the city, which is located about 90 miles from Bikoro, where officials first announced the outbreak last week. The World Health Organization has deployed 30 experts to conduct surveillance in Mbandaka.
The country has now seen three confirmed Ebola cases, 20 probable ones, and another 21 suspected cases. More than 20 people have died in the latest outbreak of the disease.
Royal wedding preparations underway » In the UK, rehearsals and security preparations are underway for tomorrow’s royal wedding. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.
AUDIO: Royal wedding horse sound
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: On Thursday, near Windsor Castle, onlookers witnessed a full carriage and military rehearsal, complete with a procession of horses.
AUDIO: Royal wedding horse sound
Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle will tie the knot at Windsor Castle tomorrow. About 100,000 members of the public and 5,000 members of the media are expected to gather outside the historic castle. The estimated cost of the wedding is $50 million, but it’s expected to generate $100 million in tourism-related revenue.
Markle announced this week that her father will not be in attendance due to health concerns.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Culture Friday with John Stonestreet. Plus, Megan Basham reviews a new version of Little Women. This is The World and Everything in It.