Amazon mistakenly sends baby registry emails

Finding out that someone has bought you a present is almost always awesome. Unless that gift is for your unborn child and you are, as far as you know, not expecting.

Amazon sent out some very confusing emails on Tuesday, telling a large number of customers that someone had bought an item off their baby registry. Many of the recipients did not have a baby registry — let alone a baby gestating or any plans to have or adopt a baby.

“A gift is on the way” read the email, which was impersonally addressed to “Amazon Customer.” The email had a large link inviting the recipient to view their thank you list. For many it redirected them to a page on which they could set up a new registry. Some were taken to a broken link. It’s likely that some of the recipients actually had registries and are now just disappointed that a friend did not in fact buy them something tiny.

The email looked like a phishing email, with a stock-photo baby crawling off the side. However it was in fact from Amazon and none of the links have been found to be suspicious. Some people on social media joked that the retail giant might know more about their reproductive status than they did.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but when one recipient called customer service, the company acknowledged that the emails went out and described it as a “technical issue.”

People in Puerto Rico prepare for the worst as they wait for Hurricane Maria

People in Puerto Rico were making last-minute preparations Tuesday and heading to shelters as Hurricane Maria heads toward the island as a Category 5 storm.

Henry Rodriguez told Local 10 News that he brought his whole family to the shelter at San Juan City Hall, including his two daughters and his dog.

For some, the shelters are their only option.

“I come here for my daughter. We live in La Perla, and that’s not safe right now,” Rodriguez said. “The past hurricane — Irma — we passed here and this is a nice place. They treat us like we are home.”

City Hall is one of at least 450 shelters open across Puerto Rico that are providing meals and a safe space for residents.

Rodriguez said many people are leaving La Perla because their homes aren’t sturdy enough. He said he left all his belongings and got his family ready to wait out the storm.

“We need to be together right now,” he said. “We need to work together.”

With a fragile electrical system, many homes near the water and others made of wood, Puerto Rico is preparing for the worst.

Parts of the island were empty Tuesday, except for those making last-minute preparations or gathering supplies.

Many told Local 10 News that they’re not sure what to expect with Maria, but aren’t taking any chances.

 

Ninth patient of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills dies

After Hurricane Irma, there were 145 people at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Albertina Vega, who suffered from dementia, was the first to die after the storm. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday Oct. 10. 

Carlos Canal, 93, was the ninth to die Tuesday night, according to a statement from the Hollywood Police Department. Detectives were still investigating what caused the deaths of the rehab facility patients. 

Facility employees told police officers the storm knocked down a tree that took out the transformer, which was meant to help power the air-conditioning system. They contacted Florida Power & Light, which had not restored power to the area after the storm, Sept. 10.  

Natasha Anderson, the chief executive of Larkin Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services, which shares a building with the nursing home, reported calling the Florida Department of Health to report the issue Sept 11 and Sept. 12.

The facility’s administrators decided not to evacuate the building despite the risk of heat-related health issues. One patient had tachycardia at 1:30  a.m., Sept. 13. An hour later another suffered respiratory distress. Three suffered cardiac arrest.  

When the heat-related symptoms at the nursing home became obvious at Memorial Regional Hospital, which is across the street from the rehab facility, hospital nurses took the initiative to walk over to the rehab facility and prompt the evacuation about 6:30 a.m.

The Hollywood Police Department later identified the related victims as Carolyn Eatherly, 78, Gail Nova, 71, Estella Hendricks, 71, Bobby Owens, 84, Miguel Franco, 92, Betty Hibbard, 84, and Manuel Mario Mendieta, 96. 

 

Exclusive: Mueller team’s focus on Manafort spans 11 years

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is reaching back more than a decade in its investigation of Paul Manafort, a sign of the pressure Mueller is placing on President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.

The FBI’s warrant for a July search of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, home said the investigation centered on possible crimes committed as far back as January 2006, according to a source briefed on the investigation.

The broad time frame is the latest indication that Mueller’s team is going well beyond Russian meddling during the campaign as part of its investigation of Trump campaign associates. Manafort, who has been the subject of an FBI investigation for three years, has emerged as a focal point for Mueller.

The search, an unusually hard-nosed tactic in a probe that centers on possible tax and financial crimes, began before dawn as Manafort and his wife lay in bed, according to sources briefed on the matter.

FBI agents entered with guns drawn and insisted on searching Kathleen Manafort for weapons, a standard part of FBI searches but a jarring event for the Manaforts, the sources said.

Mueller’s team has warned Manafort that they are working to charge him with possible tax and financial crimes, the sources said, an indication the investigation could be in an advanced stage.

A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment.

Manafort has previously denied financial wrongdoing regarding his Ukraine-related payments, his bank accounts in offshore tax shelters, and his various real estate transactions over the years.

Justice Department prosecutors concluded last year that there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges against Manafort or any of the other US subjects in the Ukraine probe, according to sources briefed on the investigation. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

Mueller’s team could be facing a deadline if they want to bring charges arising from older tax returns: The six-year statute of limitations for Manafort’s taxes filed in 2011 expires October 15. They already may be too late for the years prior to 2011.

But the government could have more time depending on the exact nature of the charges that it wants to bring.

The period mentioned in the search warrant covers much of the decade that Manafort worked as a consultant for Ukraine’s former ruling party. It’s that work, which extended beyond the ouster of the president, Viktor Yanukovych, amid street protests in 2014, that prompted the FBI’s interest in Manafort. Yanukovych’s Party of Regions was accused of corruption and the FBI sought to learn whether the American consultants hired by the Ukrainian party, which also included Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group, were involved. The Justice Department probe also looked into whether the US firms violated the federal law that requires registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

All three firms earlier this year filed retroactive registrations with the Justice Department.

Mueller’s office has subpoenaed reams of financial records from Manafort, in addition to the documents agents seized during the search, according to sources.

Investigators also have obtained Manafort’s notes from the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised to provide negative information on Hillary Clinton, the sources said.

Manafort, who attended with Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, wrote notes on his phone during the meeting.

The notes portray a meeting largely focused on a Russian lawyer’s complaints about investment fund manager William Browder and his role in pushing sanctions legislation to punish Russia. The Russian lawyer repeated claims that Browder made campaign donations to both parties as a way to pass a Russia sanctions law, according to sources briefed on the notes.

Manafort’s lawyers also turned over a one-page document containing the notes to Congress, which is investigating as well.

The notes are disjointed, the sources who have seen them said, and appear to focus on Russia’s frustration over a law passed in 2012 that led to frozen assets of powerful Russian officials.

Earlier news reports about the reference to political contributions in the notes have led to speculation that the meeting attended by Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner included a request for donations.

But people who have seen the notes say the reference is to political contributions that the Russian lawyer alleged Browder made.

Hurricane Maria aims at Puerto Rico after devastating Dominica

Dominica’s leader sent out an emotional plea for help as Hurricane Maria smashed into the Caribbean island and caused “mind-boggling” devastation, but an ominous silence followed as the country lost all communications on Tuesday and the Category 5 hurricane barreled toward Puerto Rico, which looked likely to take a direct hit.

As rain began lashing the U.S. territory on Tuesday afternoon, Puerto Rico’s governor warned that Maria could hit “with a force and violence that we haven’t seen for several 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 warned that people in wooden or flimsy homes should find safe shelter before the storm’s expected arrival on Wednesday.

“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.”

The warnings came after Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit sent out a series of dramatic posts on his Facebook page as the storm blew over that tiny country late Monday — but then stopped suddenly as phone and internet connections with the country were cut.

“The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God,” Skerrit wrote before communications went down.

A few minutes later, he messaged he could hear the sound of galvanized steel roofing tearing off houses on the small rugged island. He said that even his own roof had blown away.

In the last message before falling silent, he appealed for international aid: “We will need help, my friends, we will need help of all kinds.”

The storm knocked out communications for the entire country, leaving anyone outside Dominica struggling to determine the extent of damage, though it was clearly widespread. “The situation is really grave,” Consul General Barbara Dailey said in a telephone interview from New York.

She said she lost contact with the island around 4 a.m. At that point, officials had learned that 70 percent of homes had lost their roofs, including her own.

“I lost everything,” she said, adding there had been no word on casualties. “As a Category 5 it would be naive not to expect any (injuries) but I don’t know how many,” she said.

The island’s broadcast service was also down on Tuesday and Akamai Technologies, a company that tracks the status of the internet around the world, said most of Dominica’s internet service appeared to have been lost by midday. The Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica reported a widespread loss of communication on the island, and relatives of students posted messages on its Facebook page saying they had been unable to talk to their loved ones since late Monday evening as the storm approached.

Dominica is particularly vulnerable to flooding because of its steep mountains, cut through with rivers that rage even after a heavy rain. It was still recovering from Tropical Storm Erika, which killed 30 people and destroyed more than 370 homes in August 2015.

Officials on the neighboring French island of Guadeloupe reported at least one death: a person hit by a falling tree. They said two other people were reported missing after their boat sank off La Desirade island, just east of Guadeloupe.

About 40 percent of the island — 80,000 homes — were without power and flooding was reported in several communities.

Next in the storm’s path was St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the storm was expected to hit late Tuesday. The island was largely spared the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma on the chain’s St. Thomas and St. John islands just two weeks ago.

In the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan, normally crowded streets and beaches were empty by Tuesday afternoon as families heading to safe shelter packed up their cars and pets or secured windows and doors around their home to prepare for severe winds expected to lash the island for 12 to 24 hours. Nearly 2,800 people were in shelters across Puerto Rico, along with 105 pets, officials said.

“We’re definitely afraid,” said Erica Huber, a 33-year-old teacher from Venice, Florida, who moved to Puerto Rico a month ago with her 12-year-old daughter.

“I’m more worried about the aftermath. Is there going to be enough food and water?” she said.

In shops across the island, shelves were bare after people filled shopping carts with the limited amount of water, batteries, baby formula, milk and other items they could find.

Iris Tosado, a 64-year-old widowed housewife, scanned the nearly empty shelves before heading back home. She and her disabled son planned to spend the storm with relatives because their home is made of wood, and she prayed that it would not be destroyed.

“God, it’s the only thing I have,’” she said. “This is not looking good.”

Maria had maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph) late Monday when it slammed into Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane.

By late Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Maria’s winds had intensified to 165 mph (265 kph), and that some additional strengthening was possible Tuesday evening. At 5 p.m., Maria was centered about 175 miles (280 kilometers) southeast of San Juan and was moving west-northwest at 10 mph (16 kph).

Hurricane center forecasters said it “now appears likely” that Maria will still be at Category 5 intensity when it moves over the U.S. Virgin Islands Tuesday night and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, bringing with it “life-threatening” flooding from rain and storm surge.

Forecasters said the storm surge could raise water levels by 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7 meters) near the storm’s center. The storm was predicted to bring 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.

To the north, Hurricane Jose stirred up dangerous surf and rip currents along the U.S. East Coast, though forecasters said the storm was unlikely to make landfall. Big waves caused by Jose swept five people off a coastal jetty in Rhode Island and they were hospitalized after being rescued.

A tropical storm warning was posted for coastal areas in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and tropical storm watches were up for parts of New York’s Long Island and Connecticut.

____

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press writers Ben Fox in Miami and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

Power outages spur questions about burying power lines in South Florida

Eight days after Hurricane Irma, Florida Power & Light hasn’t restored electrical power to all of their customers.

The state’s biggest electric company is responsible for about 3.6 million customers in both residential and commercial property. Some 204,000 were still without air conditioning in temperatures reaching the low 90s.

Power had not been restored for 11,240 in Miami-Dade and 1,990 in Broward. FPL spokeswoman Florencia Contesse said the outages were related to areas with fallen trees, fallen poles and rewiring that still needs to happen. 

Jessica Fernandez is among the thousands of residents who want FPL to bury power lines to protect them from the wind and to avoid vegetation-related outages. 

“It looks nicer,” Fernandez said.
 
Ted Kury is the director of energy studies at University of Florida’s public utility research center. He said the overhead-to-underground conversion is probably not the answer. 
 
Kury said burying the power lines would need to be done in a way that would prevent storm surge and flooding to damage them. It would also be expensive. 
 
“When FPL spends money on something, it’s recovered by the customers,” Kury said. 
 
 
Local 10 News’ Andrea Torres contributed to this report.