Happening Today: Hurricane Maria, Mexican Earthquake, Trump at UN, Obamacare, Serena Williams, Jimmy Kimmel

What to Know

  • Category 4 Hurricane Maria was slamming into Puerto Rico and barreling toward the island with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph
  • President Trump and Republican Senate leaders dove into a frantic hunt or votes in a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace "Obamacare"
  • After giving birth to her child, Serena Williams wrote a letter to her mom about what it's been like to see life through her point of view

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"Extremely Dangerous" Hurricane Maria Makes Landfall on Puerto Rico

Category 4 Hurricane Maria was slamming into Puerto Rico and barreling toward the island with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 kph), with officials warning the storm is "extremely dangerous." Puerto Rico's governor had urged residents of the territory to brace for the storm, which he warned would hit with "a force and violence" not seen in generations. "We're going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico," Gov. Ricardo Rossello said, adding that a likely island-wide power outage and communication blackout could last for days. "We're going to have to rebuild." Authorities had warned that people in wooden or flimsy homes should find safe shelter before the storm's arrival. "You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you're going to die," said Hector Pesquera, the island's public safety commissioner. "I don't know how to make this any clearer." In a 6 a.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center said wind gusts of nearly 100 mph were reported in Fajardo on the eastern side of the island.

Mexicans Dig Through Collapsed Buildings Seeking Survivors as Quake Kills Hundreds

Police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dug frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings, looking for survivors of Mexico's deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities climbed to at least 217. Adding poignancy and a touch of the surreal, the magnitude-7.1 quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Just hours earlier, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date. One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at a primary and secondary school in southern Mexico City, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets. Volunteer rescue worker Dr. Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the crevices of the tottering pile of rubble that had been Escuela Enrique Rebsamen. He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead. A mix of neighborhood volunteers, police and firefighters used trained dogs and their bare hands to search through the school's rubble.

Trump's North Korea Threats Leave Asia Struggling to Explain

Was it a bluff? A warning that Washington would shoot down North Korea's next missile test? A simple restatement of past policy? Officials and pundits across Asia struggled to parse U.S. President Trump's threat to "totally destroy North Korea" if provoked. Amid the speculation, the focus of Trump's belligerence, North Korea, remained silent in the hours after the speech at the U.N. General assembly. In a region well used to Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons generating a seemingly never-ending cycle of threats and counter-threats, Trump's comments stood out. South Korea officially played them down, while some politicians worried that Trump's words signaled a loss of influence for Seoul. Tokyo focused on his mention of Japanese citizens abducted by the North. Analysts across Asia expressed surprise, worry, even wry amusement, in one case, that Trump's words seemed to mirror threats normally emanating from North Korean state media.

One Last Chance: GOP Strains for Obamacare Repeal Votes

Time growing short, President Trump and Republican Senate leaders dove into a frantic hunt for votes in a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace "Obamacare." The pressure was intense, the outcome uncertain in a Capitol newly engulfed in drama over health care. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose failure to pass an Obamacare repeal bill in July opened a bitter public rift with Trump, pressed hard for the newly revived effort, which had been left for dead as recently as a week or two ago. But in a sign he remained short of votes, McConnell refused to commit to bringing the legislation to the floor. As in July, much of the focus was on Arizona Sen. John McCain. Would he step back in line with fellow Republicans now that there was a bill co-written by Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, his best friend in the Senate? McCain wasn't saying. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another crucial vote, wasn't talking either. Republicans must act by Sept. 30 in the Senate, or face the prospect of a Democratic filibuster. That blocking action is currently staved off by budget rules that will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The new legislation, by Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, would undo the central pillars of former President Obama's health care law, and replace them with block grants to the states so they could make their own health care coverage rules.

Serena Williams Pens Emotional Letter of Admiration to Her Mom

Serena Williams finally understands what it is like to be in her mother's shoes. After giving birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., the tennis pro has penned a heartwarming letter to her own mom about what it has been like to see life through her point of view. "You are one of the strongest women I know," she began to Oracene Price in a letter published on The Washington Post's website. As the letter continued, Williams described the early physical likeness between her and her newborn. As the tone of the letter shifted, Williams recalled the times she was likened to a man because of her strong stature or false accusations that her performance on the court was the result of drugs. Before signing off, the new mom had a few compliments for the special woman in her life.

“Scam of a Bill”: Kimmel Slams Health Care “Kimmel Test” Senator

Late night host Jimmy Kimmel sounded off to blast Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy for his part in crafting the latest GOP health care proposal that, Kimmel said, goes against the promises the senator had made to him on his show. Kimmel had discussed health care with Cassidy after the late-night host revealed in early May that his newborn son had open-heart surgery to fix birth defects. This led Kimmel to deliver an emotional message to Congress, pleading for affordable health care for Americans, especially those in similar situations. Cassidy then famously coined the "Jimmy Kimmel test" phrase, saying families like Kimmel's should not have to deal with high premiums, lifetime caps and rate hikes when it comes to coverage. A week after Kimmel's plea, the senator appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to expand on his idea of affordable health care. Kimmel is now claiming Cassidy "lied right to my face" in that conversation. Cassidy delivered his replacement for the Affordable Health Care Act last week. In a proposed bill written with Sen. Lindsay Graham, states would receive block grants and cuts would be made to Medicaid, among other things.

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