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Tropical Storm Alberto makes landfall in Mexico, storm surge threat ongoing for Texas

In this aerial image, vehicles drive through flooded neighborhoods on June 19, 2024 in Surfside Beach, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, has made landfall in Mexico after pummeling Texas with rain.

A whopping 9.5 inches of rain has inundated Rockport, Texas, just north of Corpus Christi.

Alberto has already brought significant storm surge of more than 4 feet of water to the Texas coast.

As Alberto continues to move through Mexico Thursday, on-shore winds will continue to bring several feet of storm surge from Galveston to Corpus Christi.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 51 counties on Wednesday.

The worst of the rain is done for coastal Texas, from Galveston to Corpus Christi. The heaviest rain has now moved into the mountains of Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas-Mexico border.

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Sweltering heat wave continues, with 16 states under heat alerts

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(NEW YORK) — Heat alerts are in effect on Thursday for more than 70 million Americans in 16 states, stretching from Kentucky to Maine.

Maine on Wednesday saw blistering heat, including an all-time heat index record in Caribou, Maine. The city’s temperatures reached 96 degrees, with a heat index of 103.

Other cities who hit record highs on Wednesday, including Boston, Massachusetts, at 98; Manchester, New Hampshire, at 98; and Hartford, Connecticut, at 97.

New York’s Albany and Poughkeepsie both tied their previous record highs at 94 on Wednesday. Redding, Pennsylvania, also tied its record at 95 degrees.

More records were expected to be broken or tied across the Northeast and parts of the Ohio Valley on Thursday. Manchester, New Hampshire, is expected to hit 98; Hartford, Connecticut, will touch 97; Scranton, Pennsylvania, will hit 95; and Buffalo, New York, is expected to hit 91.

The heat dome is expected to move south and west, bringing record heat to Chicago, Illinois; Nashville, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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National

Four injured in shooting at party at Oakland’s Lake Merritt, police say

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(OAKLAND, Calif.) — At least four people were injured on Wednesday night as gunfire erupted at an event on Lake Merritt, in Oakland, California, police said.

More than 5,000 people had flocked to the area for the day’s event, which was being monitored by 28 police officers and four sergeants, the Oakland Police Department said in a statement early Thursday.

The event had been peaceful until about 8:15 p.m., when “illegal sideshow involving vehicles and motorbikes occurred near Grand Avenue and Bellevue Avenue,” the police said.

“A short time later, a fight broke out, and as the crowd headed towards the altercation, multiple shots were fired,” police said in their statement.” Officers located several victims who were struck by the gunfire.”

Police said early Thursday that there were no known fatalities. Officers were investigating whether there had been additional injuries, police said.

“No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting,” police said. “It is currently unknown if there was a single shooter or multiple shooters involved.”

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National

The summer solstice is here, but that doesn’t mean the season’s hottest temperatures are, too

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(NEW YORK) — This year’s summer solstice arrives as a dangerous heat wave affects millions across the country, with early-season extreme heat impacting parts of the Midwest and Northeast.

But the longest day of the year — which begins Thursday at 4:51 p.m. ET — is not typically associated with the hottest temperatures of the season in the U.S. The most scorching conditions typically occur much later in the summer, records show, with different regions of the country experiencing their warmest average temperatures at varying times. Brutal summer heat, however, will increase in frequency and duration for much of the country over the coming weeks and months.

The summer solstice marks the beginning of astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere, according to NASA. Astronomical seasons are determined by the Earth’s tilt on its rotational axis and its orbit around the sun and do not take into account temperature data, which is what determines meteorological seasons.

Solstices occur when the planet’s tilt is most pronounced. The summer solstice occurs when Earth’s tilt toward the sun is at a maximum, bringing the longest day of the year.

On the first day of astronomical summer, the sun is at its highest point in the sky and so delivers the most direct solar radiation to the hemisphere experiencing the summer season. However, it takes time for that solar radiation to begin warming the Earth’s atmosphere and surface, especially the oceans.

This time difference creates a lag between the first day of summer and when the Earth experiences the hottest temperatures of the year.

For the contiguous U.S., records show July is the hottest month of the year, on average, with the majority of the country — including much of the Northeast, Midwest, and West — experiencing the hottest temperatures of the year during the second half of July and first half of August. However, some regions of the country don’t typically experience their warmest average temperatures until August, or even September.

Much of the South typically experiences its peak average temperatures during the second half of August, while for some regions of the West Coast, the warmest temperatures of the year usually don’t occur until September.

For this summer, overall above-average temperatures are forecast across much of the country, with several significant heat waves likely for parts of the Northeast and Southwest.

Earth has experienced 12 months of record high temperatures, according to reports published earlier this month by the World Meteorological Organization and Copernicus, Europe’s climate change service.

The record-breaking trend is expected to continue through June and could potentially last through the rest of the summer, forecasts show.

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National

New horned dinosaur species discovered ‘largest and most ornate’ of its kind ever found

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(NEW YORK) — A new, giant-horned species of dinosaur was discovered that researchers said is the “largest and most ornate” of its kind ever found, according to a study published Thursday in the journal PeerJ.

Fossils of the dinosaur, which has been named Lokiceratops rangiformis — including a skull and a partial skeleton — were unearthed on private land in Kennedy Coulee, in the badlands of northern Montana near the U.S.-Canada border.

Lokiceratops belongs to a group of horned dinosaurs known as ceratopsids, which evolved during the Late Cretaceous period, about 92 million years ago and survived until the end of the dinosaurs.

Researchers said Lokiceratops was a plant-eating dinosaur that lived in the swamps and flood plains of present-day Montana about 78 million years ago and is a cousin of the infamous Triceratops.

Lokiceratops is estimated to have measured 22 feet long and have weighed about 11,000 pounds. This makes it the largest herbivore in its ecosystem at the time it was alive.

The horns are the largest and most ornate ever found in the family of dinosaurs it belongs to, according to the researchers. The dinosaur does not have a nose horn but rather two large and asymmetrical horns on each side of the middle of the back of the frill as well as a spike in the middle of the frill and more than 20 horns along the frill.

The distinctive horns inspired Lokiceratops’ name. The first half pays homage to the Norse God Loki and means “Loki’s horned face” while rangiformis means “looks like a caribou” in reference to how the horns of the dinosaur resemble those of a caribou.

“This is one of the most exciting dinosaurs I’ve had the privilege of working on,” Dr. Joseph Sertich, a paleontologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and co-lead author, told ABC News. “So it has one of the neatest arrays of horns, and spikes along the edge of its frill, including the largest share of horns ever seen along the edge of a frill, and it’s also the largest member of its group of horned dinosaurs — one of the largest ever found in North America.”

The fossils were discovered in 2019 and were cleaned, restored and mounted in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Dr. Mark Loewen, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Utah and co-lead author, told ABC News. He said the team had individual bones of the skull in pieces rather than having an entire intact skull.

“We laid them all out on a table and started to fit them back together,” he said. “Turns out, they did fit together with a click, so they were just broken in the field before they were buried. What’s interesting is, as we pieced together the skull, it became very clear that this was a new dinosaur. We were seeing a dinosaur that no one in the world knew about for 78 million years.”

He said researchers compared the bones to those of dinosaurs at museums across the world to confirm it was a new species.

Lokiceratops is the fifth dinosaur identified from the family of ceratopsids from this region of North America, which shows several of them were living alongside each other. Researchers said this also indicates a higher level of dinosaur diversity than previously understood.

“When I started as a paleontologist, we expected to find only two ceratopsians at any given time in any place in western North America,” Loewen said. “What’s interesting is finding this animal next to four other different closely related species, and a fifth distantly related species, is like going to Africa, to the Serengeti, and finding five different species of elephants. This is completely unheard of.”

Loewen said he, his students and his colleagues hope to find more specimens in more areas to understand the relationships of Lokiceratops and its closely related species and how they lived.

The skull bones will be permanently displayed at the Museum of Evolution in Maribo, Denmark, while a reconstruction of the skull — with a full-sized sculpture — will be displayed at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City for the next six months.

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National

60-year-old among 2 confirmed dead in New Mexico wildfires: ‘He made friends everywhere’

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(RUIDOSO, N.M.) — Dual wildfires in New Mexico turned deadly, as state police announced Wednesday that two people were discovered deceased in the fires that remain uncontained.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency earlier this week as the South Fork Fire and Salt Fire spread with 0% containment as of Wednesday afternoon.

New Mexico State Police reported Patrick Pearson, 60, died after sustaining numerous burns from the South Fork Fire, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Pearson was discovered on the side of the road near the Swiss Chalet Motel in Ruidoso, Lincoln County, officials said.

Pearson’s daughter, Hilary Mallak, told ABC News that he was a musician in Albuquerque for most of his life until he moved to Ruidoso.

Mallak reflected on her father’s life, saying, “he made friends everywhere” and would “help people when he could.”

Police said the second individual was found dead in a vehicle incinerated in the South Fork Fire in Ruidoso.

Officials said they were unable to immediately identify the person due to their condition being skeletal remains.

“No legible identification documents were located in the burned vehicle,” according to police.

Fire officials reported the blazes spread to more than 23,400 acres by Wednesday morning, destroying more than 1,400 homes and other structures and causing more than 8,000 people to evacuate.

Evacuation orders are in effect for three counties in the state: Mescalero, Otero and Lincoln, Grisham said during a Tuesday press conference.

There are 17 federal and state agencies and 800 personnel on the ground working to help people amid evacuations, according to Grisham.

The governor said there are 13 wildfire hotshot crews battling the fires in addition to other fire teams.

The South Fork Fire was discovered at around 9 a.m. Monday morning on the Mescalero Reservation, west of the Village of Ruidoso, the New Mexico Forestry Division said, noting the cause of the fire remains unknown.

“Fire growth has been rapid with extreme fire behavior,” the division said.

Nearby, the Salt Fire, also in the Mescalero Reservation, is slower moving but “creeping through difficult, mountainous terrain south of Ruidoso,” fire officials said.

The Mescalero Reservation is approximately 130 miles southeast of Albuquerque

New Mexico has submitted a federal emergency disaster request, which Grisham noted should be approved within the next 24 hours.

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National

East Palestine train derailment spread ‘hazardous’ pollution to 16 states: Study

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(EAST PALESTINE, Ohio.) — The destruction from a massive train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, spread far beyond the initial wreckage site, spewing “hazardous” pollution across 16 states, according to a newly released study.

On Feb. 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine — a village on the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania — sending toxic chemicals into the air, soil, creeks and lakes in the region, according to the study published in Environmental Research Letters on Wednesday.

In total, the pollution from the wreckage and subsequent controlled burn of several of the train’s cars spread over 16 states in the Midwest, Northeast and Southern U.S., reaching 540,000 square miles or 14% of the U.S. land area, according to the study.

Researchers estimate that 110 million residents, or one-third of the nation’s population, were impacted by pollution.

Eleven of the derailed cars were transporting hazardous materials, five of which contained vinyl chloride, a highly volatile colorless gas produced for commercial uses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes for Health, at the time.

Several cars were also carrying ethyl acrylate and isobutylene, which are considered to be very toxic and possibly carcinogenic, the agencies reported.

Three days after the initial crash, officials authorized an hours-long controlled release and burn of vinyl chloride in five derailed tanker cars, “due to fear of an explosion of one or all of these cars,” according to the study, noting, the cars were carrying 115,580 gallons of the flammable gas.

A large ball of fire and a plume of black smoke filled with contaminants could be seen billowing out from the derailment site as the controlled burn took place. This prompted concerns from residents about the potential negative health effects of the burn.

In the study published Wednesday, researchers analyzed rain and snow water samples collected at 260 sites from surrounding states the week of the derailment (Jan. 31) and the week after (Feb 14).

“Our measurements revealed a large areal impact from the Midwest through the Northeast and likely Canada, and perhaps as far south as North Carolina,” according to the study.

Researchers discovered that “exceptionally elevated levels” of Chloride and pH levels were found in northern Pennsylvania and along the U.S.-Canada border, compared to historic data.

Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and almost every site in New York were flagged as having soot ash and dirt in the samples, according to the study.

Pollutants in the air reached southern states including Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, according to the study.

Researchers found that 19 sites had at least one chemical compound in the 99th percentile, while eight sites had four or more compounds in the 99th percentile.

“The impacts of the fire were larger in scale and scope than the initial predictions, and likely due to the uplift from the fire itself entraining pollutants into the atmosphere,” researchers wrote.

Following the derailment, Dr. Erin Haynes, chair of the University of Kentucky’s Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, surveyed approximately 400 adults in the East Palestine area about their health effects after the accident.

Haynes found that three out of four residents suffered health impacts after the derailment and over half of the residents reported their conditions continued through fall of 2023.

Nose and eye irritation, coughing and wheezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes and feeling weak and tired were among the symptoms reported, according to Haynes.

In April 2024, Norfolk Southern agreed to a $600 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit related to the train derailment.

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National

Police release photo of suspect wanted in connection with ‘antisemetic’ NYC subway car chant

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(NEW YORK) — New York City police released a new wanted poster Wednesday as they continue to look for the man who yelled for “Zionists” riding on a southbound number 5 subway train last week to identify themselves.

The unidentified suspect is seen in a still photo made from surveillance footage. The man can be seen in the newly released image wearing a piece of cloth with a design resembling the Palestinian keffiyeh and the Palestinian flag’s colors draped on his shoulders.

The suspect, who is seen with dark sunglasses and a chin strap style beard, allegedly chanted on a subway train “Raise your hands if you’re a Zionist. Repeat after me; this is your chance to get out,” on June 10 as the train was held at the Union Square station in Manhattan. He is wanted on suspicion of attempted coercion, according to police.

Video of the incident went viral two days after the incident happened, with one rider filing a police complaint in response.

The NYPD is asking others who were aboard the subway car and felt threatened to come forward as well as anyone with information on the suspect.

A spokesperson for New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement, “New York City will always protect the right to free speech, but we will never allow our city to descend into lawlessness.

“Threatening New Yorkers based on their beliefs is not only vile, it’s illegal and will not be tolerated. Anyone with information about those responsible for this illegal conduct should contact the NYPD immediately,” the spokesman said.

The incident was part of numerous demonstrations related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza that led to vandalism in several New York City locations last week.

The homes of the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum and several of the museum’s board members were vandalized allegedly by protesters last week, the police previously said.

“We are deeply troubled by these horrible acts,” a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Museum said in a statement last week.

Another New York City protest tied to the war in Gaza prompted a large police response early June 12 and the closure of a block on the city’s Upper East Side, where the Palestinian Mission to the United Nations was vandalized and demonstrators littered the street with leaflets smeared with red paint and encouraging the intifada, according to police.

ABC News’ Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

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Louisiana public schools to display Ten Commandments in classrooms after controversial law passes

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(BATON ROUGE, La.) — Louisiana public schools and colleges will be required to post an image of the Ten Commandments next year after a controversial bill was signed into law Wednesday.

Under H.B. 71 public classrooms starting from kindergarten to the collegiate level must have a poster of the Commandments up at the start of 2025.

Civil rights groups have already questioned the law that passed in Louisiana’s Republican-controlled state legislature on May 28, contending it violates the separation of church and state in public buildings. The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened to sue.

The bill was signed by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, along with a package of others he said were designed to “expand faith in public schools.”

“If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original law-giver, which was Moses,” Landry said at a news conference where he signed the bill.

The bill’s authors contend that the measure is not solely religious, but that it has historical significance. No other state currently has such a mandate for display of the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are described in the law’s text as “foundational documents of our state and national government.”

“History records that James Madison, the fourth President of the United States of America, stated that “(w)e have staked the whole future of our new nation … upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments,” the text of the law read.

The displays, which will be paid for by private donations and not state dollars, will be “displayed on a poster or framed document,” the law says. The legislation’s text also calls for it to be printed in large, easily readable font.

The displays will also be paired with a four-paragraph “context statement” describing how the Ten Commandments “were a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries.”

The Louisiana ACLU, however, contended that the law’s language is blatantly unconstitutional and said in a statement it plans to sue the state.

The ACLU cited the 1980, U.S. Supreme Court decision Stone v. Graham, which ruled that a similar law passed in Kentucky for its public school system violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“The displays mandated by H.B. 71 will result in unconstitutional religious coercion of students, who are legally required to attend school and are thus a captive audience for school-sponsored religious messages,” the Louisiana ACLU said in a statement.

“They will also send a chilling message to students and families who do not follow the state’s preferred version of the Ten Commandments that they do not belong, and are not welcome, in our public schools,” the ACLU of Louisiana added.

Landry’s education package also includes laws that would authorize the hiring of chaplains in schools, restrict teachers from mentioning sexual orientation or gender identity, and prevent schools from using a transgender student’s preferred name or pronouns unless granted permission by parents.

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National

Families of those killed in Boeing Max crashes ask Justice Department to impose $24 billion fine

Families of those killed in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Boeing on June 18, 2024 Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Justice should impose a more than $24 billion fine on Boeing, according to the families of the 346 victims of two 737 Max 8 crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

The families’ attorney, Paul Cassell, stated in a letter Wednesday to the Fraud Section of the Justice Department that a “maximum possible fine” is “legally justified and clearly appropriate” for what has been called “the deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history.”

The letter from the families came in response to a request from the Justice Department for their views on how the department should proceed, now that the government has deemed Boeing to be in breach of a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement that followed the crashes.

Some 189 people died when a Boeing 737 Max 8 plunged into the Java Sea off Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018. Black box data from the Lion Air jet revealed the pilots struggled to fight the plane’s malfunctioning safety system from takeoff to the moment it nose-dived into the water.

Just five months later, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 — another Boeing 737 Max 8 — crashed near Addis Ababa airport just six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board.

Many of the family members showed up on Capitol Hill Tuesday during Senate subcommittee testimony by outgoing Boeing CEO David Calhoun. They held signs and shouted at Calhoun, who attempted to apologize for the failures of Boeing’s safety culture that led to the crashes.

He turned to the families in the hearing room, saying, “I apologize for the grief we have caused. We are focused on safety.”

In the final days of the Trump administration, the DOJ charged Boeing in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. for allegedly misleading the Federal Aviation Administration during the agency’s evaluation of the new Max 8 aircraft.

The DOJ agreed to defer criminal prosecution for three years, but informed the company last month that it had allegedly failed to live up to its obligations under the deferred prosecution agreement. The Justice Department has indicated it is deliberating over whether to proceed with a prosecution of the company, and has said a decision will come on or before July 7.

ABC News has reached out to Boeing for comment.

Boeing has previously disputed the DOJ’s finding of a breach.

“We believe that we have honored the terms of that agreement, and look forward to the opportunity to respond to the Department on this issue,” the company said in a statement in May.

The families argue in the letter to the Justice Department that the “appropriate action now is an aggressive criminal prosecution of The Boeing Company” in a jury trial. If the government enters plea negotiations with Boeing, the families contend the company should be offered no concessions.

“A single conspiracy charge for fraud in a case revolving around 346 deaths is already extremely lenient treatment for such an extraordinarily serious crime. Against that backdrop, any further leniency through plea concessions would be utterly inappropriate,” the letter reads.

The families also advocate for criminal prosecutions of the responsible corporate officials at Boeing at the time of the two crashes.

The families further recommend:

  • a portion of the fine should be devoted to appropriate safety and related measures;
  • the court appoint an independent corporate monitor;
  • the company remain on probation for five years;
  • Boeing’s Board of Directors should meet with families;
  • the DOJ continues investigation of other possible crimes

“The salient fact in this case is not complicated: Boeing lied, people died,” Cassell wrote. “That staggering loss should be reflected in the sentence in this case — including in the fine. Indeed, it would be morally reprehensible if the criminal justice system was incapable of capturing the enormous human costs of Boeing’s crime.”

The letter notes the families will “vehemently and appropriately object to any resolution that does not acknowledge Boeing’s responsibility for criminally killing their loved ones.”

The families’ letter also indicates they reached the $24 billion figure by calculating the total pecuniary value of the 346 lives lost and the total economic loss to Boeing’s customers, and then doubling it, in accordance with an alternative fines provision of the U.S. criminal code.

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