Friday morning news: October 12, 2018

Hurricane Michael leaves devastation in its wake » “Unimaginable destruction.” That’s how Florida Governor Rick Scott described the damage from Hurricane Michael, which was nearly a category 5 hurricane when it slammed the panhandle Wednesday.

SCOTT: Homes are gone, businesses gone. Roads and infrastructure along the storm’s path have been destroyed. This hurricane was an absolute monster, and the damage left in its wake is still yet to be fully understood. 

The storm wiped out entire neighborhoods and communities. Aerial video footage of Mexico Beach near Panama City Beach showed grids of concrete slabs where buildings once stood, the ground littered with shredded piles of wood and furniture. One storm chaser described the scene as apocalyptic.

At the White House Thursday President Trump called the pictures heartbreaking.

TRUMP: Our prayers are with those who lost their lives and with their families, and our hearts are with the thousands who have sustained property damage—in many cases entirely wiped out. 

He said the federal government is working closely with state and local officials to help all those impacted by the storm.

Michael claimed the lives of at least a half-dozen people. But that number could rise sharply as emergency officials get a clearer picture of how many people ignored orders to evacuate coastal communities.

Rebuilding from the storm will be a long and expensive process. Government officials say early estimates suggest total losses from Hurricane Michael could approach $5 billion.

On top of the structural devastation, Michael is also being called a major agricultural disaster.

BLACK: Our worst dreams, I believe, are being realized. 

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said many farmers have seen their crops entirely wiped out.

BLACK: I have seen in pictures this morning of cotton that was being harvested yesterday, and today where the farmer stopped, this morning you cannot tell where he stopped harvest and where the rest of it was harvested by the storm. 

And across Georgia and the Florida power crews are still working to restore power to hundreds of thousand of residents still in the dark.

Washington state ends capital punishment » The Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday did away with the death penalty, ruling that it violates the state’s constitution. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has more.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: The case centered on the death sentence of Allen Eugene Gregory. He was convicted of raping, robbing, and killing 43-year-old Geneine Harshfield in 1996.

Gregory’s lawyers submitted a study showing that African-American defendants were 4-and-a-half times more likely than white defendants to receive the death penalty in Washington.

And the court was convinced, ruling that the death penalty is—quote—“invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”

The justices also said it “fails to serve any legitimate penological goals.” And they ordered all current death row sentences converted to life in prison.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

South Korea defers to U.S. on North Korea sanctions » 

South Korean officials on Thursday backpedaled on its foreign minister’s proposal to lift sanctions on North Korea.

That proposal drew a strong backlash both from within the country and from the White House.

But President Trump has repeatedly called on U.S. allies to maintain “maximum pressure” on North Korea amid nuclear talks. And South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon on Thursday said the government has not given serious consideration to lifting sanctions.

Astronauts land safely after rocket malfunction » AUDIO: [Countdown]

Everything went according to plan through the initial stages of the Thursday’s Soyuz rocket launch.

AUDIO: And there is liftoff of the Soyuz MS-10 to the international space station, carrying Nick Hague and Alexei Ovchinin. 

But about 90 seconds after launch, a rocket booster on the Russian spacecraft malfunctioned.

AUDIO: Eleven-42-17 failure.

It was to be American astronaut Nick Hague’s first mission to space, alongside Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin. But after the rocket failed, the astronauts’ capsule automatically separated from the spacecraft and they were forced to make an emergency landing.

Both men emerged from the capsule safe and sound.  

Moscow is halting all manned space flights pending an investigation into what caused the failure.

Markets continue slide » Wall Street skidded to a close once again as the selloff continued Thursday.

President Trump said recent interest rate hikes are largely to blame.

TRUMP: I think the Fed is far too stringent and they’re making a mistake. 

Many analysts say fears over rising inflation and especially interest rates appear to be the main drivers of the market plunge. But Valeur Capital portfolio manager Nicola Marinelli says another reason for the downturn may be the heated trade war between the U.S. and China.

MARINELLI: Some sectors are starting to suffer in their balance sheet. For example the car sector, the auto sector or the luxury sector as well. 

However, news that President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have agreed to meet next month appeared to take the edge off some of the losses Thursday.   

The Dow closed down 546 points. Not good, but better than yesterday.

The NASDAQ dropped 93 points and the S&P 500 was down 57 points.

Four teams set to battle for trip to the World Series » The National League Championship Series kicks off tonight with the L.A. Dodgers battling the Brewers in Milwaukee. The winner of the best-of-seven series will advance to the World Series.

Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun:

BRAUN: We have a fan base that’s as good, as supportive as anyone out there. We couldn’t be more happy to be going to the NLCS and be able to do that for them. 

First pitch just after 8 p.m. Eastern tonight.

The American League Championship Series starts tomorrow when the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros take on the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston.

I’m Kent Covington. Up next—Culture Friday. And a Nigerian wedding. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara) Homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael are shown in this aerial photo Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Fla. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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