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Photos: Hawaii Kilauea volcano eruption

Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii has erupted. More than 1,500 residents have been evacuated.

Kilauea eruption: Lava creeps toward Hawaiian power plant

Lava continued to flow toward a geothermal power plant on Hawaii’s Big Island on Wednesday, nearly three weeks after the Kilauea volcano started spewing ash and molten rock into the air, destroying dozens of structures and leaving at least one person injured.

>> Read more trending news

More than 40 structures have been destroyed in the eruption that started May 3. It has since inundated almost 325 acres around Kilauea with lava and led to concerns about laze, a toxic mixture of lava and haze that forms when hot lava hits ocean waters.

>> What is laze? Hawaii volcano lava reaches the Pacific Ocean

Update 10:10 a.m. EDT May 23: Officials said all 11 wells at Puna Geothermal Venture’s plant on Hawaii’s Big Island had been successfully plugged by Tuesday as lava continued to inch toward the plant, Hawaii News Now reported.

“The well field at PGV is essentially safe,” Hawaii Emergency Management Administrator Thomas Travis said, according to the news station. “The probability of anything happening if lava enters the well field is very, very low. They should feel pretty comfortable that there should be no untoward events from Puna Geothermal, assuming the lava doesn't change its pattern or flow."

Reuters reported Monday that workers were scrambling to plug the plant’s wells to avoid an “uncontrollable release of toxic gasses.”

Update 4:37 p.m. EDT May 22: Lava continued to flow Tuesday on Hawaii's Big Island, creating toxic laze as it hit ocean waters. 

Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said a majority of the lava was flowing Tuesday from a trio of fissures that have opened in recent days.

Update 11:56 a.m. EDT May 22: The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory released video Tuesday of lava hitting the ocean one day earlier, creating a toxic laze plume.

Laze is formed when lava enters the ocean, setting off a series of chemical reactions and cooling the lava until it transforms into glass, which shatters, according to USGS officials. It creates white clouds of steam that contain toxic gas and tiny shards of volcanic glass. 

Update 10:18 a.m. EDT May 22: Officials with the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency warned Tuesday of another “explosive eruption” at Kilauea’s summit

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported the explosion around 3:45 a.m.

“The resulting ash plume may affect the surrounding areas,” officials warned. “The wind may carry the ash plume to the southwest toward Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Waiohinu.”

Authorities said the biggest hazard from Tuesday’s early morning eruption is likely to be ash fallout. Residents were asked to stay indoors and keep windows closed.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory officials warned in an update Monday afternoon that "additional explosions (are) possible at any time" on Kilauea's summit.

Update 11:15 p.m. EDT May 21: Lava is flowing toward a geothermal power plant on Hawaii’s Big Island as Mount Kilauea continues its violent eruptions.

Reuters is reporting that workers are scrambling to shut down the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) plant to prevent the “uncontrollable release of toxic gases.”

The plant provides about 25 percent of the Big Island’s power, but has been closed since the volcanic eruptions started on May 3.

Update 12:35 p.m. EDT May 21: Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said early Monday that a small explosion happened just before 1 a.m. local time at the Halemaumau crater at Kilauea's summit.

The explosion shot ash about 7,000 feet into the air.

"Additional explosive events that could produce minor amounts of ashfall downwind are possible at any time," USGS officials said.

The Hawaiian County Civil Defense Agency warned residents to be aware of ashfall after the "explosive eruption."

Update 12:38 p.m. May 20: Lava from the Kilauea volcano has crossed Highway 137 and entered the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaii County Civil Defense said Sunday. A second lava flow is about 437 yards from the highway, the Star Advertiser of Honolulu reported.

Big Island residents may now have to contend with laze -- a mixture of lava and haze -- that forms when hot lava hits the ocean, CNN reported.

After making contact with the water, the laze sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air.

Laze can lead to lung, eye and skin irritation, CNN reported.

"This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows," the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory wrote on its website.

Officials have told people to avoid areas where lava meets the ocean, CNN reported.

Powerful eruptions accompanied by thunderous booms punctuated the air Friday around Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

The volcano spewed lava bombs the size of cows as molten rock flowed from several of the 22 fissures that have opened around the volcano. 

Update 2 a.m. EDT May 19: Fast-moving lava isolated about 40 homes in a rural subdivision, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters, the Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported.

According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, police, firefighters and National Guard troops were stopping people from entering the area.

Update 11:30 p.m. EDT May 18: Hawaiian authorities have sent the National Guard, police and fire units into the East Rift Zone in Puna, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency.

“There are approximately 40 homes in the area that are isolated. Officials are gaining access by helicopter to the area to assess how many people are there and if they need assistance. All persons in that area are asked to stay where they are and wait for further instructions,” the agency said on its website.

The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has confirmed another fissure opened on Friday, bringing the total number of fissures to 22. 

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as Kilauea continues its violent eruptions.

Update 8:30 a.m. EDT May 18:  More lava is spewing 

from the Kilauea volcano as the 21st fissure opened Thursday, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, state officials have been handing out masks to protect people who live near Kilauea, ABC News reported. About 18,000 masks have been distributed, CNN reported. The safety measure protects residents from breathing in pieces of rock, glass and crystals that fall as the volcano continues to erupt, ABC News reported.

Update 10:45 p.m. EDT May 17: Lava is erupting from points along the fissure system on Kilauea volcano, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but the agency is calling it a “low-level eruption” at this point. 

Although lava is still spattering from Fissure 17, the flow has not advanced significantly over the past day, the USGS said.

There are currently 18 fissures that have opened due to seismic activity on Kilauea’ over the past two weeks. 

Volcanic gas emission are still elevated throughout the area and residents are urged to remain on alert. 

“This eruption is still evolving and additional outbreaks of lava are possible. Ground deformation continues and seismicity remains elevated in the area,” the USGS reported late Thursday

Rain on the Big Island Thursday helped the situation with the ashfall, but volcano experts are warning the situation on Kilauea is  still very dynamic.

Original report: Several schools were closed as ash continued to fall Thursday due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels. Officials warned people in the area to take shelter and protect themselves from the falling ash.

>> Here's how to help victims of Hawaii volcano, earthquakes

"The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area," officials with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a 5 a.m. alert. In a subsequent update, USGS officials said the ash plume was moving to the northeast.

The plume could be seen in an image taken from a webcam at the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

"Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves," the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency warned.

Michelle Coombs, of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, told Hawaii News Now that the situation remained “very, very active and very dynamic,” on Thursday.

“The potential for larger explosions is still there,” she said.

Officials with the USGS warned Tuesday that an eruption of Kilauea's volcano appeared "imminent."

>> Red alert declared on Hawaii’s Big Island; major Kilauea eruption ‘imminent’

The eruption on Kilauea began May 3. It has since forced thousands of people from their homes, destroyed nearly 40 structures -- including dozens of homes -- and created more than two dozen fissures in the ground surrounding the volcano.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Could DNA finally prove, disprove Loch Ness Monster’s existence?

A scientist from New Zealand may have a way to prove that the Loch Ness Monster is real. 

Neil Gemmell is leading a team that will start testing the body of water for genetic material left behind by the animals that live in the ecosystem, the BBC reported.

His team will be at the site in a few weeks, working to collect small pieces of skin and scales from the lake.

While Gemmell himself doesn’t believe in Nessie’s existence, he said there could be creatures that still haven’t been discovered, the BBC reported.

>> Read more trending news 

“There’s absolutely no doubt that we will find new stuff. And that’s very exciting,” Gemmell told the BBC

“While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness - the UK’s largest freshwater body,” Gemmell explained.

The technique is called eDNA and has been used for tracking marine life, Reuters reported.

The myth of Nessie dates back to the 6th century when Irish monk St. Columba banished a “water beast” to the River Ness, Reuters reported. In 1934, the famous photo dubbed the “surgeon’s photo” was taken. The photo was found to be a hoax six decades later when it was discovered that the creature was, in fact, a toy submarine with a sea monster model attacked.

In 2003, the BBC financed a research project that mapped the entire lake using 600 sonar beams, Reuters reported.

The results of the latest study are expected to be released in January.

UPDATE: Judge rules 30-year-old must move out after parents take son to court

Update May 23, 9:13 a.m. EST: A New York State Supreme Court judge ruled Tuesday that 30-year-old Michael Rotondo must move out of his parents’ house, WSTM reports.

Michael Rotondo represented himself in court and cited the case of Kosa v. Legg, that a there is a “common law requirement” to give a tenant six-month notice before they are removed through “ejectment action,” according to CNN.

>> Read more trending news 

New York State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood disagreed.

“I’m granting the eviction,” he stated during court, CNN reports. “I  think the notice is sufficient.”

Rotondo told reporters outside courtroom that he plans to appeal the ruling. 

Original story: A New York couple is asking the Supreme Court of New York State to step in and help get their 30-year-old son to move out of their home. 

Christina and Mark Rotondo stated through court filings that they have been trying to get their son, Michael Rotondo, to move out of their Camillus home for several months, according to WSTM.

As evidence, the couple included five written notices to prove they have asked their son to leave, according to The New York Post

The couple gave Michael Rotondo the first notice on Feb. 2, giving him two weeks notice to move out. About two weeks later, Michael got a second warning, stating that he is “hereby evicted,” “effective immediately.”

In a third note sent five days later, the couple offered their son $1,100 to “find a place to stay,” WSTM reports. The note also included some advice, telling him to “organize the things you need for work and to manage an apartment.” 

It also suggested that he sell any items of significant value, including weapons: “You need the money and will have no place for the stuff,” WSTM reported. The note also stated: “There are jobs available even those with a poor work history like you. Get one - you have to work!”

In the end of the note, the couple stated, “your Mother has offered to help you find a new place to live.”

The fourth message included in court filings demanded that Michael Rotondo move out by a March 15 deadline, stating, “... we have seen no indication that you are preparing to leave” and they will “take any appropriate actions necessary to make sure you leave the house as demanded.”

In a fifth message, the couple addressed the issue of Michael Rotondo’s car, which was still parked outside the residence. 

In a response filed Wednesday, Michael Rotondo stated that the five notices did not give him a reasonable amount of time to move out.

He cited as precedent a “common law requirement of a six-month notice” before forcing someone to move out. 

Michael Rotondo’s court filing also stated that he lived in the home for eight years and in that time he was never asked to help out with chores or household expenses.

Rotondo also stated that his parents didn’t give him any reason why he needed to leave and claims they are retaliating against him, WSTM reports

He has asked the court to dismiss his parent’s request.

A hearing is scheduled for May 22. 

Stacey Abrams wins Georgia Democratic primary, seeks to become nation's 1st black female governor

Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams won the Democratic nomination for the state's top office on Tuesday, defeating ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans and advancing her quest to become the nation’s first black female elected governor. 

>> Watch the news report here

She will face one of two Republicans in November in the race to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal, a competition that will test whether the state is truly competitive after more than a decade of GOP rule. 

>> Midterm 2018: Here are the Senate races that you should be watching

“We are writing the next chapter of Georgia history, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired,” a jubilant Abrams said, adding: “And I know for the journey ahead, we need every voice in our party – and every independent thinker in the state.”

Abrams attracted national attention, big-name endorsements and millions of dollars in outside spending with her “unapologetic progressive” platform to flip the Georgia governor’s office for the first time since 2002. 

>> On AJC.com: Cagle, Kemp headed to runoff for GOP nomination

She overcame a stiff challenge from Evans, who tried to frame herself as the more ardent progressive. Evans fueled her campaign with nearly $2 million of her own money, pummeling Abrams with criticism for supporting a 2011 Republican-backed measure that cut awards to the HOPE scholarship. 

Each of the Democratic and Republican candidates tried to carve out his or her niche in a race that attracted more than $22 million in campaign contributions – and flooded the airwaves with more than $13 million in TV ads. 

>> Midterm 2018: House races you should be watching

Though her Republican opponent is not yet known – Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle will face Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a July 24 showdown – the Georgia GOP quickly attacked her over her financial background. 

“I’ve tried to make sense of her personal and professional finances, and my head is spinning,” said Georgia GOP chair John Watson, who called on her to release her tax returns and other financial records. 

Abrams owes more than $200,000 in debts, including about $54,000 to the IRS. She has said she’s on payment plan to pay back the debt, and has sought to frame her struggles as evidence she understands the problems that Georgians face.

>> Midterm elections 2018: When are the primaries? A state-by-state list

Evans, meanwhile, quickly endorsed Abrams and vowed to help Democrats form a united front against President Donald Trump and state Republicans.

"The Democratic Party is trying to find a unified voice to rally against Trump,” said Evans. “We must do that." 

Shifting strategy 

The Democrats largely abandoned centrist talk to appeal instead to left-leaning voters with a promise of implementing gun control, increasing financial aid for lower-income families and taking steps toward the decriminalization of marijuana.

That’s a stark contrast from more moderate appeals from a generation of Democratic candidates for governor, who often sought the National Rifle Association’s endorsement and touted fiscally conservative policies.

They are echoing many in the party’s base who insisted on that shift. Claudia Colichon, who lives in north Atlanta, said she demands candidates who embrace mass transit funding and fight for gun control.

>> Midterm 2018: What should you do if you are denied the right to vote? Here are some tips

“There needs to be a progressive change,” said Colichon. “People are seeing that conservative policies aren’t working.”

Abrams drew support from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and a string of other high-profile Democrats and raised about two-thirds of her campaign funds from outside the state. National groups chipped in another $2 million worth of ads supporting her. 

Evans mounted a lower-key campaign focused on local endorsements and smaller gatherings. The election-eve activities highlighted their differences. While Abrams held a large get-out-the-vote rally, Evans slung beers for supporters at an Atlanta bar. 

United and divided 

Both Abrams and Evans united around a host of issues, including expanding Medicaid, growing the medical marijuana program and continuing Deal’s criminal justice overhaul. And both are outspoken opponents of “religious liberty” measures they say amount to state-sponsored discrimination. 

The two attorneys also both were the products of hardscrabble childhoods that shaped their views of government, served together in the state House in their 30s and had up-close views of the tragic toll of substance abuse on their families with siblings who faced legal trouble.

But they’ve clashed on other issues, including how aggressively they oppose the NRA, how they would handle the state’s $26 billion budget and even how they would address Stone Mountain and other Civil War monuments

The biggest policy divide, however, centered on the HOPE scholarship, which provides tuition aid to Georgia college students who maintain a “B” average. 

Evans said Abrams betrayed her party by working with Republicans seeking cost-cutting moves to reduce the program’s awards in 2011. Abrams countered that more “seasoned” Democrats sided with her in that vote because they knew negotiating with the GOP would prevent deeper cuts. 

A new philosophy 

The other central disagreement in the race involved strategy. 

Evans banked on a more conventional Democratic plan to win over independent voters and moderates, particularly suburban women, who have fled to the GOP. Abrams staked her campaign on energizing left-leaning voters, including minorities who rarely cast ballots. 

The two competed for support in an increasingly diverse electorate and at times racial tensions surfaced. 

There was the moment last year when Abrams supporters shouted down Evans at an Atlanta conference of progressive activists with chants of “support black women.” Evans, who is white, drew scorn with a video at Ebenezer Baptist Church that faded her face into the image of Martin Luther King Jr.

For Democrats, the divisive primary for governor was somewhat novel. Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 nominee, faced no Democratic competition. And former Gov. Roy Barnes steamrolled over opposition in 2010 during his failed comeback bid. 

>> Read more trending news 

The party has also largely avoided fierce primary battles between black and white candidates for governor since the 1990 vote, when then-Lt. Gov. Zell Miller trounced former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. 

Evans, who represented a Smyrna-based district, faced an uphill battle from the moment she entered the race. Black women form the largest bloc of voters in the Democratic primary, and Abrams’ campaign predicted African-American turnout overall could make up 65 percent of the vote. 

To make inroads, Evans staged a slate of smaller rallies and meet-and-greets, and she relied heavily on prominent black officials to spread her message. She also spent far more heavily on TV than Abrams, inundating the airwaves with a HOPE-themed pitch. 

In her victory speech, Abrams moved to unite the party by praising Evans’ supporters. She pledged to repeal a campus carry law, expand the HOPE scholarship, improve workforce training programs and strengthen labor unions. 

And she tried to appeal to more centrist voters by saying she would be the “state’s public education governor” – emphasis on the word “public.” 

“Together we will shape a future with a boundless belief in the historic investment of children who are at the very core of every decision we make,” she said

– AJC staff writer Ariel Hart contributed to this report.

Too many returns lands some Amazon customers on banned list

Amazon is now following the lead of traditional retailers. 

The online shopping giant is banning customers who return too many purchases, The Wall Street Journal reported.

>> Read more trending news 

And in some cases, the company didn’t tell its customers why they were banned.

Nir Nissim told The Wall Street Journal that his account was closed earlier this year, claiming that he violated the conditions of use agreement. The email advised Nissim that he would not be permitted to open a new account or use another one to order with Amazon.

Nissim said he returned one item this year, a computer drive, and four last year. He also said he had a $450 gift card that became worthless. After contacting Amazon, even Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, he was eventually reinstated. He was told by an Amazon employee on behalf of Bezos, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Shira Golan was another customer who unexpectedly lost access after she was told she “reported an unusual number of problems.” Golan said she spends thousands of dollars a year with the retailer and that she has asked for refunds on clothing and shoes when they were damaged or wrong.

Amazon wouldn’t release how many customers have been banned because of having too many returns. But bans are not new for the retailer. In 2015, Paul Fidalgo was banned for returning smartphones over a short period of time. During the ban, Fidalgo not only couldn’t shop on the site, he also was not able to purchase any new content for his Kindle e-reader. Fidalgo though could read past content he had downloaded.

“It was dizzying and disorienting,” Fidalgo told The Wall Street Journal. “You don’t realize how intertwined a company is with your daily routine, until it’s shut off.”

Fidalgo was allowed back on Amazon after he received credits and asked the company how he could redeem them.

CNBC reached out to Amazon on how it picks accounts for closure after The Wall Street Journal report.

The company said:

We want everyone to be able to use Amazon, but there are rare occasions where someone abuses our service over an extended period of time. We never take these decisions lightly, but with over 300 million customers around the world, we take action when appropriate to protect the experience for all our customers. If a customer believes we’ve made an error, we encourage them to contact us directly so we can review their account and take appropriate action.

WATCH: Adoptive mom's heartwarming video shows older boys including shy son in basketball game

A video and message posted by a Green County, Oklahoma, mom is spreading quickly on social media.

>> Watch the news report here

Christy Rowden posted the video Monday afternoon after a heartwarming moment at a park.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Rowden said she was at the park with her two children that afternoon when a bus of students from Oologah Upper Elementary pulled up and started playing on the basketball court.

Rowden’s 7-year-old son was adopted from Uganda. Rowden said he can be shy and, as a result, stood back as the older boys played basketball.

>> Watch the video here

Soon after, the fifth-grade boys reportedly came up to her son, Asher, introduced themselves and invited him to play.

The boys quickly welcomed him into their game, cheering him on and giving high-fives.

>> Read more trending news 

Rowden said the moment brought a tear to her eye, especially since she is the mom of a black boy in a mostly white community.

Rowden shared the post to remind people that there is still good in the world and to thank the children who were so kind to her son.

>> See the Facebook post here

4-year-old mistakes gun for toy, shoots, kills little brother

A Virginia family is mourning the death of a 2-year-old boy after he was shot and killed by his 4-year-old brother.

Tyson Aponte was shot in the chest when his brother picked up what he thought was a toy. In reality it was a loaded gun, WTVR reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The children’s mother was home when the shooting happened Tuesday morning.

Tyson was taken to the University of Virginia Health System where he died, WCAV reported.

“It’s of paramount importance to make sure your guns are secured and out of the reach of children and everything,” Major Donald Lowe told WTVR. “At least have them unloaded or a safety lock on them, whatever you have to do to keep them from being discharged accidentally.”

Police are investigating.

“Our heart breaks for this family ... they’re devastated, naturally, so we want to do everything we can to help them,” Lowe told WTVR.

Man charged with murder in chase, crash that killed North Carolina trooper

A man wanted following a fatal crash involving a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper has been captured.

>> Shooter dead in Panama City, Florida standoff, reports say

Authorities had been looking for 22-year-old Dakota Kape Whitt after Trooper Samuel N. Bullard, 24, of Wilkes County, died late Monday in a crash along Interstate 77 in Yadkin County during a chase.

WGHP-TV reports that during the chase, one trooper noticed he did not see a second patrol car behind him. When his attempt at contacting the other trooper failed, he turned around and found the patrol car engulfed in flames.

>> Read more trending news 

“Our SHP family is devastated by the loss of Trooper Bullard. We are struggling to find words that describe the hurting we feel right now,” said Col. Glenn M. McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol. “Trooper Bullard died as he was fulfilling his promise to the people of North Carolina, protecting and serving his community.” 

It happened around 11:30 p.m. on I-77 southbound near NC-67. The area is about 70 miles north of Charlotte and due west of Winston-Salem.

>> No leads in fatal drive-by shooting of grandmother; police asking for public’s help

Chris Knox with the NCSHP said Bullard was a three-year veteran assigned to Surry County.

Troopers said the incident started with a license check. A black BMW did not stop and troopers went after it. Trooper Bullard was involved in a collision at Mile Marker 80.

Whitt was taken into custody without incident around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. He's charged with murder, felony fleeing to elude arrest in a motor vehicle and driving with a revoked license. 

Philip Roth dead at 85: Writers, public figures remember Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Philip Roth – the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "American Pastoral" and other highly acclaimed works such as "Portnoy's Complaint," "The Human Stain" and "The Plot Against America" – has died of congestive heart failure, The Associated Press reported late Tuesday. He was 85.

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths 2018

Fellow writers and public figures took to Twitter to share their condolences and reflect on Roth's novels. Here's what they had to say:

>> Read more trending news 

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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