AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT
Puerto Ricans say US relief efforts failing them
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The Trump administration declared Thursday that its relief efforts in Puerto Rico are succeeding, but people on the island said help was scarce and disorganized while food supplies dwindled in some remote towns eight days after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of 3.4 million people.
President Donald Trump cleared the way for more supplies to head to Puerto Rico by issuing a 10-day waiver of federal restrictions on foreign ships delivering cargo to the island. And House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief account would get a $6.7 billion boost by the end of the week.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke declared that "the relief effort is under control."
"It is really a good news story, in terms of our ability to reach people," she told reporters in the White House driveway.
Outside the capital, San Juan, people said that was far from the truth.
Climber: Rock fall strikes Yosemite for a second day
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A massive new rock fall hit Yosemite National Park on Thursday, cracking with a thundering roar off the El Capitan rock formation, injuring one person and sending huge plumes of white dust surging through the valley floor below.
The slide came a day after a giant slab of granite plunged from the same formation, killing a British man on a hiking and climbing visit and injuring his wife.
Climber Ryan Sheridan had just reached the top of El Capitan, a 7,569-foot (2,307-meter) formation, when the rock let loose below him Thursday.
"There was so much smoke and debris," he said by cellphone. "It filled the entire valley with smoke."
"It was in the same location of the previous rock fall. A larger rock fall let loose, easily three times the size," Sheridan said.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. TRUMP CLEARS WAY FOR INCREASED AID TO PUERTO RICO
On the island, food and water remain scarce, and a growing number of people decry the federal response as an uncoordinated mess.
2. TWITTER EXECS' PERFORMANCE PANNED
The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee says a closed-door presentation by executives suggests the company doesn't understand the seriousness of his panel's investigation into Russian election interference.
Job in jeopardy, HHS chief promises to repay charter costs
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fighting to keep his job, health secretary Tom Price said Thursday he'd write a personal check to reimburse taxpayers for his travel on charter flights taken on government business and pledged to fly commercial — "no exceptions."
The repayment — $51,887.31, according to Price's office — covered only the secretary's seat. Price did not address the overall cost of the flights, which could amount to several hundred thousand dollars and is under investigation.
"I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars," Price said in a statement. "I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer." His mea culpa came a day after a public rebuke from President Donald Trump.
A former congressman from Georgia regarded as a conservative policy expert, Price said he hopes to keep his Cabinet seat. At the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wouldn't go that far.
"We're going to conduct a full review and we'll see what happens," Sanders told reporters. Travel by other top officials is also attracting scrutiny.
The Playboy Mansion played a starring role in Hef's mystique
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Apart from the White House, there's probably not a more storied home in the world than the Playboy Mansion.
Its sprawling grounds have played host to countless parties and social events, as well as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's offices, bedroom, movie theater, staff quarters, library and personal archives. A zoo's worth of animals lived in the backyard, including flamingos, peacocks, parrots and monkeys. And then there was the Grotto: the steamy, cave-like pool that hosted many debauched escapades over the years.
But Hefner's death on Wednesday at age 91 heralds the end of the Playboy Mansion era, and will return the property to a similar state it was in when it was built nearly a century ago.
Hefner bought the Holmby Hills estate in 1971 and simultaneously made it into the epicenter of his Playboy brand and one of the most famous homes in the world.
A neighbor bought the five-acre property for $100 million in 2016 with the stipulation that Hefner could live out the rest of his years there. The new owner, Daren Metropoulos, said he ultimately plans to connect the mansion and its environs to his own two-acre digs next door. The homes were originally built in the 1920s as a single estate.
DeVos met by protesters at Harvard speech on school choice
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Students at Harvard University staged a protest Thursday as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered an address on school choice.
Some held up fists. One held up a sign reading, "White supremacist." Others called for protections for victims of campus sexual assault.
DeVos last week revoked Obama administration guidance that instructed colleges on how to handle sexual assault cases.
She did not interrupt her speech Thursday to address the protesters, but later took some pointed questions from the audience. The protest was mostly silent, though some students snapped their fingers or cheered in support of some questions.
Asked about protections for transgender student, DeVos said she is committed to making sure all students are safe. Earlier this year, she rescinded guidance that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms that matched their gender identity.
Wray installed as FBI director; Trump absent at ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chris Wray was formally installed as the new FBI director on Thursday in a ceremony notable for the absence of the man who appointed him: President Donald Trump.
The ceremony in a courtyard at FBI headquarters was largely a formality since Wray has been on the job for about two months. But in a reflection of the unusual circumstances of the event, it took place without Trump. And Wray's two direct predecessors as FBI director, James Comey and Robert Mueller, were also absent, avoiding potentially uncomfortable encounters amid an investigation that touches the White House.
Trump fired Comey in May, and Mueller was appointed as special counsel the following week to oversee an FBI investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Part of that probe includes an investigation into Comey's firing.
Trump's absence was all the more striking given that President Barack Obama attended the most recent FBI director installation ceremony, for Comey in 2013, and spoke warmly about him.
Neither the Russia investigation nor a separate FBI probe of Hillary Clinton's email use was directly referenced during the 45-minute ceremony. Yet the politics of the event were unmistakable, at both the podium and in the audience, which included Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote the memo that the White House initially held up as justification for Comey's firing.
India's flagging economy draws dire warnings of recession
NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power on a euphoric wave of promises to boost India's economy, add millions of jobs and bring "good times" to the developing nation.
Three years later, India's economic prospects look decidedly grimmer. India's economic expansion has slowed to its lowest level in three years. Small businesses are struggling, or even shutting down, after overhauls of the nation's currency and sales tax system. Modi's own allies warn of a dire outlook, with some raising the specter of an economic depression.
While government ministers have urged patience, analysts and others in Modi's governing Bharatiya Janata Party are not so sanguine about the current trends.
"A hard landing appears inevitable," Yashwant Sinha, a BJP lawmaker and former finance minister, said in a stinging commentary Wednesday in the Indian Express newspaper. He accused the government of rushing through poorly planned economic reforms, which he said will hobble home-grown businesses for years to come.
"Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums ... exports have dwindled," he said.
Indonesia volcano may erupt explosively or menace for weeks
BALI, Indonesia (AP) — Experts say a suddenly active volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali is more likely to erupt than not.
But because every volcano has its own unique characteristics, scientists can't predict when that will be with total certainty. It could erupt suddenly or continue for weeks at its current menacing level of seismic activity.
WHAT'S LED TO ERUPTION WARNINGS?
The slow movement of the tectonic plates that make up the planet's surface carries massive quantities of rock deep into the earth, where they melt. As this molten magma rises, pressure increases inside a sealed chamber beneath the mountain until it explodes.
Telescope on land sacred to Native Hawaiians moves forward
HONOLULU (AP) — A long-running effort to build one of the world's largest telescopes on a mountain sacred to Native Hawaiians is moving forward after a key approval Thursday, reopening divisions over a project that promises revolutionary views into the heavens but has drawn impassioned protests over the impact to a spiritual place.
Hawaii's land board granted a construction permit for the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope atop the state's tallest mountain, called Mauna Kea, but opponents likely would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Protesters willing to be arrested were successful in blocking construction in the past.
"For the Hawaiian people, I have a message: This is our time to rise as a people," said Kahookahi Kanuha, a protest leader. "This is our time to take back all of the things that we know are ours. All the things that were illegally taken from us."
Telescope officials don't have any immediate construction plans and will consider its next steps, said Scott Ishikawa, a project spokesman. Officials previously have said they want to resume building in 2018.
"In moving forward, we will listen respectfully to the community in order to realize the shared vision of Mauna Kea as a world center for Hawaiian culture, education and science," TMT International Observatory Board Chairman Henry Yang said in a statement.