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    The Latest on Cyclone Mekuni (all times local): 6:30 p.m. Images circulated online from Yemen's Socotra island show soaking wet residents attempting to find shelter from Cyclone Mekunu, which pounded the area on its path toward Oman. The photos and video footage, which went viral Thursday, showed strong winds spiraling over the Middle Eastern island and rain, flash flooding and mudslides. Socotra, listed by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site, has a unique ecosystem and is home to rare species of plants, land snails and reptile species, many of which can be found nowhere else on the planet. Meteorologists expected the 'very severe' cyclone to strike Oman on Saturday near Salalah, the sultanate's third-largest city and home to some 200,000 people near the country's border with Yemen. ___ 9:45 a.m. The Yemeni island of Socotra has been pounded by Cyclone Mekunu, which is on a path to strike Oman this weekend. India's Meteorological Department said in a bulletin Thursday morning that the storm was some 190 kilometers, or 118 miles, east-northeast of Socotra Island. The department said the storm, now described as 'very severe,' was some 475 kilometers —about 295 miles — off the coast of Salalah, one of Oman's biggest cities. There was no immediate word from Socotra. The island, listed by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site, has been the focus of a dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Yemen's internationally recognized government amid that country's war. Saudi troops recently deployed there. Meteorologists anticipate the storm making landfall near Salalah and neighboring Yemen on Saturday morning.
  • Emails show USA Gymnastics in 2015 came up with false excuses to account for the absence of a sports doctor who had been accused of sexually assaulting female athletes. Larry Nassar suggested that USA Gymnastics tell people that he couldn't attend two major events because he was sick or needed to focus on his work at Michigan State University. A lawyer for the Indianapolis-based group agreed to the cover stories. The Indianapolis Star reported on the emails Thursday. USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, declined to comment. USA Gymnastics has been accused of covering up assault allegations against Nassar. The group didn't tell Michigan State or elite gymnastics clubs about the allegations. Nassar publicly stated in September 2015 that he was retiring. Nassar is serving decades in prison.
  • A Massachusetts judge who engaged in sexual acts with a social worker in his courthouse chambers will be suspended indefinitely, the state's highest court ruled Thursday, and may face removal from the bench. The Supreme Judicial Court said Judge Thomas Estes' 'grave, willful and repeated wrongdoing' has damaged the public's faith in the judicial system. 'The sanction we impose is not severe because we seek to punish the judge severely, but because ... we seriously question whether he can command the respect and authority essential to the performance of his judicial function,' the judges wrote. Estes' lawyer, David Hoose, said they are disappointed in the decision and that Estes is weighing his options. Tammy Cagle, who worked on the drug court where Estes sat, has accused him in a federal lawsuit of pressuring her into performing oral sex on him and then pushing her out of the drug court when she tried to end the relationship. Estes says their relationship was consensual and denies harassing Cagle or playing in a role in her losing her job. He says that Cagle initiated their first encounter and was the one who wanted to continue their relationship. Estes' lawyer had urged the court for a four-month suspension, saying he has already suffered immensely from the affair becoming public. Estes' lawyer told the justices in April that Estes' relationship with Cagle never impacted his judicial duties and shouldn't cause him to lose his career. The Supreme Judicial Court said Estes will be suspended without pay effective June 15. The court said the Commission on Judicial Conduct can share documents in the case with lawmakers and the governor, who can decide whether to remove him from the bench. Lawmakers could either impeach Estes or issue a 'bill of address' calling for his removal. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who supports Estes' removal, and the Governor's Council would both have to sign off on a bill of address to strip Estes from the bench. It's only the fourth time the state's high court has imposed such a sanction on a judge. The last time a Massachusetts judge was removed through a bill of address was Judge Jerome Troy, of the Dorchester District Court, in 1973. Estes, a former public defender was nominated to the court by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2014. He was the first justice of the Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown before he was confined to administrative duties last year. He also came under fire in 2016 when he sentenced a former high school athlete to probation after the athlete pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two classmates. The case drew parallels to that of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who got just six months in jail for a sexual assault conviction. ___ Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://twitter.com/aedurkinricher . Read more of her work at http://bit.ly/2hIhzDb .
  • Scientists in Hawaii have captured rare images of blue flames burning from cracks in the pavement as the Kilauea volcano gushes fountains of lava in the background, offering insight into a new dimension in the volcano's weeks-long eruption. Volcanos produce methane when hot lava buries and burns plants and trees. The gas flows through the ground and up through existing cracks. 'It's very dramatic. It's very eerie,' Jim Kauahikaua, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist, told reporters. He said it was only the second time he's ever seen blue flames during an eruption. The methane can seep through cracks several feet away from the lava. It can also cause explosions when it's ignited while trapped underground. These blasts can toss blocks several feet away, said Wendy Stovall, also a scientist at the Geological Survey. Hawaii County has ordered about 2,000 people to evacuate from Leilani Estates and surrounding neighborhoods since the eruption began on May 3. The volcano has opened more than 20 vents in the ground that have released lava, sulfur dioxide and steam. The lava has been pouring down the flank of the volcano and into the ocean miles away. The eruption has destroyed 50 buildings, including about two dozen homes. One person was seriously injured after being hit by a flying piece of lava. Stovall said lava spatter from one vent was forming a wall that was helping protect a nearby geothermal plant. Lava from that vent was shooting further into the air and producing the highest lava wall of all the vents, which was blocking molten rock from flowing north toward the plant. Officials shut down Puna Geothermal shortly after the eruption began. On Tuesday, officials finished stabilizing wells that bring up hot liquid and steam to feed a turbine generator. A team from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and the company continued Wednesday to plug the wells to make sure the fluid inside doesn't move from one part of the well to the other, said Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County. Earlier this month officials removed a flammable gas called pentane from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions. Tourism officials cheered news that a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship that tours the Hawaiian Islands would resume stopping in Kailua-Kona next week. Businesses catering to tourists on the cruise have been hurt since the company suspended Big Island port visits after the eruption began. The company said it would resume calling on Hilo, a town on the eastern side of the island closer to the lava, when conditions allow. ___ Follow AP's complete coverage of the Hawaii volcano here: https://apnews.com/tag/Kilauea
  • The Kremlin said Thursday it doubts that Yulia Skripal has issued a statement of her own free will after her recovery from poisoning that Britain blames on Russia. Skripal, who was poisoned along with her ex-spy father Sergei in a nerve agent attack, said Wednesday her recovery has been 'slow and painful' and that she doesn't need assistance offered by the Russian Embassy. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin doesn't know whether Skripal made her statement under pressure or independently, where she is or if her rights have been respected by British authorities. Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in the March 4 poisoning and blamed Britain for staging it. Peskov described the Skripals' poisoning as an 'unprecedented international provocation.' 'We have every reason not to trust it,' Peskov said of Skripal's statement in a call with reporters. The Russian Embassy in London went a step further, tweeting: 'The bottom line is that MI5 should expect better results from their translators - for 32K/year (32,000 pounds a year) they should be able to write statements which sound more Russian.' The tweet echoed statements by many commentators in Moscow, who said that the wording of Skripal's remarks sounded odd and artificial. The cousin of Yulia Skripal said on Russian state television late Wednesday that she appeared to be delivering a statement written by others. 'The text is learned by heart — I mean she doesn't speak emotionally, she says it very quickly,' Viktoria Skripal said.
  • Attorneys for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens want lawmakers investigating the governor to issue a variety of subpoenas to probe more deeply into the source of a six-figure cash payment to an attorney representing the ex-husband of a woman who had an affair with the governor. A special legislative committee considering whether to recommend Greitens' impeachment was to meet Thursday to hear from attorney Al Watkins, who represents the ex-husband of the women with whom Greitens had an affair. The investigation into Greitens was prompted by a report by KMOV-TV in January about an audio recording the man made of his wife telling him that Greitens had bound her hands, blindfolded her and taken a photo of her while she was at least partially nude in the basement of Greiten's home in 2015. The woman said Greitens threatened to distribute the photo if she spoke of their encounter. Greitens has acknowledged having an affair but denied that he blackmailed the woman or committed any crime. On Wednesday, The Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn testified that he paid $120,000 cash to Watkins in early 2017. He said $100,000 was to purchase the audio recording for his use in a future book about Greitens and $20,000 was for Faughn's own legal fees. But Faughn, who was appearing voluntarily before the panel, said he didn't share the audio recordings with others and repeatedly declined to answer questions about how he got the money. Greitens' attorneys said in the letter to lawmakers that they want subpoenas served to Faughn to compel him to answer questions about the source of the money and to provide documents that could reveal it. The governor's lawyers also want subpoenas issued to several other people associated with a bank to probe the potential original source of the money. Greitens' lawyers said Faughn's refusal to answer questions about the money source shows that the Legislature's rules are not working and that lawmakers should allow the governor's attorneys to call and cross-examine witnesses.
  • U.S. stocks are skidding Thursday after President Donald Trump said he is canceling a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Energy companies are falling along with oil prices as investors respond to reports the nations of OPEC may start producing more oil. Car companies including Fiat Chrysler and Toyota are falling as the Trump administration considered tariffs on imported cars and car parts, a move the governments of China, Japan and the European Union condemned. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index dropped 18 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,714 as of 11:10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 219 points, or 0.9 percent, to 24,667. The Nasdaq composite shed 47 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,378. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,620. Technology companies took some of the worst losses. Microsoft fell 1.7 percent to $97 and Intel gave up 1.7 percent to $54.23. Video game maker Electronic Arts slid 2.7 percent to $129.95 and Google's parent company, Alphabet, skidded 1.1 percent to $1,073.74. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 1 percent to $71.14 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 0.9 percent to $79.09 a barrel in London. Various news outlets reported that the nations of the OPEC cartel might start producing more oil in response to reduced exports from Venezuela and Iran. Greater supplies would send prices lower. Energy companies have slipped in recent days as investors anticipated that possibility. On Thursday Exxon Mobil lost 2.3 percent to $82.06 and Chevron dipped 1.9 percent to $126.30. OPEC and a group of other major oil producers cut production last year in response to a steep drop in oil prices. U.S. crude had fallen from more than $100 a barrel in mid-2014 to as little as $26 a barrel in early 2016. On Monday U.S. crude peaked at $72.24 a barrel, its highest price since late 2014. NORTH KOREA: Stocks turned lower after the White House announced that the planned meeting between Trump and Kim was off. An open letter from Trump said he was canceling the June 12 summit because of 'tremendous anger and open hostility' in a recent statement by a North Korean official. The two sides agreed in March after Trump and Kim traded public insults and threats for months. BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.96 percent from 2.99 percent, and banks traded lower. Metals prices also increased. Gold gained 1.2 percent to $1,304.80 an ounce and silver jumped 1.4 percent to $16.64 an ounce. BRAKING NEWS: The Trump administration could place tariffs on imported vehicles and automotive parts. It plans to conduct an investigation into those imports on national security grounds. The U.S. will decide by June 1 whether to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Europe on the same grounds. A European Union official said the proposal would violate World Trade Organization rules and Japan and China also criticized the proposal. Fiat Chrysler lost 2.2 percent to $21.97 and Tata Motors fell 5.6 percent to $21.14. Toyota shares fell 1.8 percent to $132.42. U.S. rivals Ford rose 1.3 percent to $11.59 and General Motors added 0.9 percent to $38.19. DEUTSCHE BANK LAYOFFS: Germany's struggling Deutsche Bank said it is cutting more than 7,000 jobs as it reshapes its stock trading operation and refocuses its global investment banking business on its European base. The bank's stock fell 5.2 percent to $12.21. EARNINGS: Best Buy had a stronger first quarter than analysts expected, but Wall Street was disappointed with the retailer's profit forecasts for the current quarter and for the rest of the year. The stock lost 7 percent to $70.64. Prescription drug distributor McKesson said difficult market conditions in Europe and Canada hurt its business in its latest quarter and it declined 2.4 percent to $143.26. Spam maker Hormel posted a weaker-than-expected profit as it dealt with higher costs for freight and commodities. The stock shed 3.1 percent to $34.70. Home furnishings company Williams-Sonoma surged after raising its annual forecasts following a strong first quarter. It gained 13 percent to $55.56. CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.12 yen from 110.07 yen. The euro rose to $1.1728 from $1.1698. OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX lost 0.6 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain fell 0.4 percent. The CAC 40 in France shed 0.2 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1.1 percent and the Kospi in South Korea slipped 0.2 percent. ____ AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay
  • Justify has begun preparing for the Belmont Stakes and pursuit of the Triple Crown with an energetic gallop around Churchill Downs. Back at work since returning from last weekend's muddy half-length victory over Bravazo in the Preakness, the unbeaten chestnut colt galloped 1 3/8 miles under a clear sky on a dry, fast surface Thursday morning. Justify won the Kentucky Derby under sloppy conditions here on May 5. Jimmy Barnes, assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, said the horse 'really seemed to enjoy it' this time. Justify aims to follow muddy wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with a Belmont victory on June 9 to become the 13th Triple Crown champion and the first since American Pharoah in 2015. Baffert has trained both colts and has guided Justify to a 5-0 start as a 3-year-old. Baffert is expected to return to Louisville early next week. He'll see a horse that looked none the worse for wear after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown in sloppy conditions. Barnes' hope is for improved conditions at the Belmont, where he believes Justify can run even better. The 1½-mile race, the Triple Crown's longest leg, poses a distance challenge against a likely field of fresher, rested horses out to deny a bid for history. Justify is enjoying something of a break as well after two races in three weeks. In his first work since the Preakness, the horse looked lively with exercise rider Humberto Gomez aboard. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Justify in the Belmont. 'I saw just what I needed to see,' Barnes said. 'Had a good bounce in his step, very happy. Just took it easy with him out there, went about a mile and three-eighths, just give him a nice, easy first day back out, which we did.' Barnes added, 'The horse does run in the mud well, but you ought to see him on a dry track.' Justify walked the shed row for several days in Baffert's barn before hitting the track to a small crowd of onlookers. The remaining training schedule will be determined, but the son of Scat Daddy by Stage Magic will likely travel to New York on June 6. If Thursday offered any indication, Justify was glad to have dry footing for a change. 'The horse's energy level was still good,' said Starlight Racing managing partner Jack Wolf, whose operation is teamed with three other ownership groups. 'I was talking to Mike Smith after the race and he was commenting on how he eased the horse up at the end. I asked him if he could feel the other horse (Bravazo) closing, and he said he could feel him but didn't feel he was in any danger of losing. 'According to Mike, he thinks this last race will really help prepare him to run a good race at the Belmont.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump canceling his planned summit with North Korea (all times local): 10:55 a.m. The U.N. chief says he is 'deeply concerned' by the cancellation of the planned summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. Antonio Guterres told an audience at the University of Geneva on Thursday that he was urging the parties to keep working 'to find a path to the peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.' Guterres' comments came as he laid out his disarmament agenda, warning that nuclear agreements between states have been threatened like never before. Trump announced Thursday that he was canceling the June 12 summit in Singapore with Kim following hostile comments. Overnight, Kim's government threatened nuclear confrontation and called Vice President Mike Pence a 'political dummy.' ___ 10:45 a.m. House Speaker Paul Ryan says achieving a peaceful resolution to the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula will require 'a much greater degree of seriousness' from Kim Jong Un. President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he has canceled a June 12 summit in Singapore with the North Korean leader, citing hostile comments from Kim. Overnight, Kim's government threatened nuclear confrontation and called Vice President Mike Pence a 'political dummy.' Ryan says in a statement Thursday that Kim's government has long given ample reason to question its commitment to stability. The Republican says that, until a peaceful resolution is achieved, Congress has provided 'significant tools' to hold North Korea accountable. Ryan says the U.S. must continue the 'maximum pressure' campaign that Trump and others say brought North Korea to the table in the first place. ___ 10:35 a.m. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says North Korea did not respond to repeated requests from U.S. officials to discuss logistics for the now-canceled summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that the lack of response was an additional reason for Trump's decision to call off the meeting. Trump cited recent bellicose comments from the North in a letter to Kim released by the White House. Pompeo says: 'We had received no response to our inquiries from them.' Pompeo says the North's attitude changed markedly since he returned from a trip to Pyongyang earlier this month, when he met with Kim and secured the release of three American prisoners being held there. ___ 10:30 a.m. A senior Democratic senator says President Donald Trump's withdrawal from a planned summit with North Korea shows the consequence of his failure to prepare properly. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said Thursday that the withdrawal shows 'the art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal.' The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says it's 'pretty amazing' that Trump's Republican administration would be shocked that North Korea 'is acting as North Korea might very well normally act.' He adds: 'I'm not sure that constantly quoting the Libya model is the diplomatic way to try to get to the results that we seek in North Korea because that didn't work out too well for Gadhafi.' Menendez was speaking Thursday at a committee hearing attended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. ___ 10:05 a.m. President Donald Trump says North Korea's leader should not 'hesitate to call me or write' if he changes his mind about their now-canceled summit. Trump announced Thursday that he had canceled a summit planned with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. Trump released a letter to Kim saying his decision was based on 'the tremendous anger and open hostility' in Kim's most recent statement. Trump did not explain what triggered his decision. But in a statement, the North Korean government had referred to Vice President Mike Pence as a 'political dummy' and said it is just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table. But Trump tells Kim 'please do not hesitate to call me or write' should he change his mind about a one-on-one meeting. ___ 10 a.m. President Donald Trump is telling North Korea's Kim Jong Un in a letter that the world is losing a 'great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth' now that their summit has been canceled. Trump on Thursday canceled the planned June 12 summit in Singapore with Kim, citing the 'tremendous anger and open hostility' in a recent statement from North Korea. In the statement, the North Korean government referred to Vice President Mike Pence as a 'political dummy' and said it is just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table. Trump says in the letter: 'This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.' ___ 9:50 a.m. President Donald Trump is canceling the planned June 12 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, citing the 'tremendous anger and open hostility' in a recent statement from North Korea. Trump says in a letter to Kim released Thursday by the White House that based on the statement, he felt it was 'inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.' The president says the North Koreans talk about their nuclear capabilities, 'but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.
  • Authorities say a homeowner trying to kill troublesome weeds with a torch has burned down his garage. The Springfield News-Sun reports Springfield Township firefighters in central Ohio were called to a home around 4 a.m. Thursday for a detached garage engulfed in flames. No one was injured. Fire officials learned the man had been trying to eliminate weeds around the garage. They're calling the blaze an accident. The destroyed garage held tools and appliances. Fire officials estimate the loss at between $10,000 and $15,000. ___ Information from: Springfield News-Sun, http://www.springfieldnewssun.com