'Don't play games with it' - Donald Trump issues grim warning as Hurricane Florence takes aim at southeast of the US

People who thought they were safe from the onslaught of Hurricane Florence began boarding up and Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency as uncertainty over the path of the monster storm spread worry along the South-eastern coast.

Closing in with terrifying winds of 215kmp/h and potentially catastrophic rain and storm surge, Florence is expected to blow ashore Saturday morning (US time) along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, the National Hurricane Centre said.

While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of South Carolina in danger and imperilled Georgia, too.

At the White House, President Donald Trump urged people to "get out of its way."

"Don't play games with it. It's a big one," he said.

With the change in the forecast, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for the entire state to ease regulations on trucks hauling gasoline and relief supplies, and asked people to pray for those in Florence's path. North and South Carolina and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

The shift in the projected track had areas that once thought they were out of range worried. In South Carolina, Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.

"We've had our lessons. Now it might be time for the exam," Baxley said late in the morning.

Early Thursday morning (NZT), the Category 4 storm was centred 785 kilometres southeast of Wilmington, moving at 24kmp/h with the potential for 1 to 3 feet of rain in places — enough to touch off catastrophic flooding and an environmental disaster, too, if the water inundates the region's many industrial waste sites and hog manure ponds.

The National Hurricane Centre's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast starting  Friday before finally blowing ashore. That could punish a longer stretch of coastline, and for a longer period of time, than previously thought.

The trend is "exceptionally bad news," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge."

If some of the computer projections hold, "it's going to come roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say, 'I'm not sure I really want to do this, and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland,'" said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground forecasting service.

As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and South Carolina and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland.

"This is not going to be a glancing blow," warned Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast."

Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less dangerous, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Centre discussion.

With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, Ohio vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand. Most other beachgoers were long done.

"It's been really nice," Nicole Roland said. "Also, a little creepy. You feel like you should have already left."

For many of those under evacuation orders, getting out of harm's way has proved difficult, as airlines cancelled flights and motorists had a hard time finding gas.

Michelle Stober loaded up valuables at her home on Wrightsville Beach to drive back to her primary residence in Cary, North Carolina.

"This morning I drove around for an hour looking for gas in Cary. Everyone was sold out," she said.

Described as a monster, the eye of Hurricane Florence continues to grow. Source: 1 NEWS



Court upholds fine for editors and photographers who published topless Kate Middleton photos

A French court of appeals has upheld a ruling that two directors of French celebrity magazine Closer should be fined a maximum NZ $79,000 for breaching the privacy of Kate Middleton, when publishing topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing back in 2012.

The Versailles appeals court upheld a decision today from September 2017 in Nanterre to fine the publication's two directors the maximum possible, and the two photographers who snapped the duchess NZ $18,000 each.

Last September, the office of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said they were pleased at the ruling as they "wished to make the point strongly that this kind of unjustified intrusion should not happen".

The damages were short of the NZ $2.65 million hoped for by the royal couple.

Prince William and Kate Middleton in New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

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'Food terrorists' could face 15 years in prison as Australia considers new penalties in wake of fruit needle crisis

So-called "food terrorists" could face 15 years behind bars as part of tough new penalties aimed at preventing another strawberry needle crisis.

The government will introduce legislation to federal parliament yesterday, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for it to be passed before MPs exit Canberra.

More than 100 reports of tampered fruit are being investigated by police across the country, many of which are thought to be fake or copycat cases.

The Queensland and NSW governments are offering a reward to catch the culprits.

The measures include increasing the maximum penalty for food contamination from 10 to 15 years' jail, in line with child pornography and terror financing offences.

There will also be a new offence of being reckless in causing harm, which will carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The most serious cases with national security implications will be covered by sabotage offences, with penalties ranging from seven to 25 years' jail.

The prime minister said the strawberry crisis was a distressing series of events.

"This is a shocking and cowardly thing to do," Mr Morrison said.

The government is also providing $1 million to make more food safety officials available to increase detection, fast-track recalls and assist the industry to rebuild confidence.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud labelled the offenders parasites, calling for them to be caught and have the book thrown at them.

"Each and every one of us, we can help an Aussie farmer better than any government can," Mr Littleproud said.

"We can go into those shops, we can buy a hell of a lot of strawberries. Cut 'em up and eat 'em - don't cut them out of your diet."

One person, a young boy, has been arrested so far. 

NSW authorities are investigating more than 20 incidents of needles found in strawberries. Source: Breakfast

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3D gun businessman accused of sex with underage prostitute in Texas

An affidavit accuses the owner of a Texas company that makes untraceable 3D-printed guns of paying $500 cash to have sex with a female under 17.

The affidavit filed overnight in state district court in Austin accuses 30-year-old Cody R. Wilson of sexual assault of a juvenile. It says he met his alleged victim through the website SugarDaddyMeet.com.

Wilson hasn't responded to a phone message. Jail records indicate he's not in custody.

Wilson is identified in the affidavit as the owner of Austin-based Defense Distributed. He announced last month that he is selling 3D-printed gun blueprints through his website after a federal court blocked posting them online for free.

That followed a collection of states suing to stop a settlement that the federal government had reached with Defense Distributed.

Cody Wilson with a Liberator pistol.
Cody Wilson with a Liberator pistol. Source: Associated Press

The pistol can be 3D-printed out of ABS plastic at home for a few hundred dollars.


US surgeon accused of removing wrong organ and not telling patient

An American surgeon denies he breached the standard of care when he removed an Iowa woman's healthy kidney instead of her adrenal gland.

Dr Scott Baker and The Surgical Institute of South Dakota responded to a lawsuit filed by Dena Knapp last month alleging professional negligence, the Argus Leader reports. The response acknowledges Dr Baker removed Ms Knapp's right kidney instead of an adrenal gland and an associated mass during her October 2016 surgery.

Knapp says she wasn't told about the mix-up until after she was released from the hospital. She developed stage-three kidney disease after the surgery.

Dr Baker and the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, hospital deny breaching the standard of care by removing the kidney, failing to remove the adrenal gland and failing to admit the mistake. They also deny that Ms Knapp suffered damages.