Hurricane Michael makes landfall, Sears in danger, and plummeting border drug prosecutions: The Short List

Hurricane Michael makes landfall, Sears in danger, and plummeting border drug prosecutions: The Short List

On Wednesday, we're covering all things Hurricane Michael, an arrest made in the fatal New York limo crash case and the ticking clock on Sears' bankruptcy.

But before we get started, here's an air travel tip: Leave the squirrel at home.

Here are the headlines.

Hurricane Michael comes in with a roar

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida Wednesday as the strongest ever to slam into the state's Panhandle. Upon arrival, the Category 4 storm – just 2 mph short of Cat 5 status – left more than a quarter of a million homes and businesses without power, with the number is rising rapidly. "It's historic, it's extremely life threatening," said Kenneth Graham, director of the hurricane center. Michael is the fourth-strongest storm on record to hit the U.S. by wind speed and the strongest October hurricane on record. As of late afternoon, the storm's winds had dropped to Category 3 strength at 125 mph. About 4.2 million people are under hurricane warnings, from the Panhandle and Big Bend areas in Florida into parts of southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia.

Arrest made in New York limo crash

The son of the owner of the limousine company in the deadly New York crash that killed 20 people was taken into custody early Wednesday and later charged with criminally negligent homicide. Nauman Hussain ran the Saratoga County limousine company owned by his father, Shahed Hussain, who was in Pakistan at the time of the crash. "My client is not guilty. Police jumped the gun in bringing charges," Hussain's attorney told reporters. Police are investigating the deadly crash, the worst in the U.S. in nine years, as a criminal investigation in large part because of repeated warnings and failed inspections of the 2001 Ford Excursion. 

Sears is in hot water

Sears is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy with a $134 million debt payment due Monday. And with heavy losses mounting, it may not have enough to make that payment on time. Investors ran for the exits Wednesday morning, driving Sears shares down 26 percent to 44 cents in pre-market trading. While a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing would give Sears a chance to cut debt and close more stores in a bid to survive, it could also follow the route of Toys R Us, which ended up liquidating a year after filing for bankruptcy.

That's not all for the market today: The Dow fell more than 800 points, its largest drop since February. 

Speaking of plummeting, border drug prosecutions plunged during "zero tolerance" crackdown

Federal drug-trafficking prosecutions along the southwestern border dropped to their lowest level in nearly two decades this summer as the Trump administration launched a “zero tolerance” crackdown on illegal immigration that separated thousands of children from their parents. As prosecutors and border agents raced to bring those immigrants to court, the number of people they charged under drug-trafficking laws dropped by 30 percent along the border — and in some places far more steeply than that, a USA TODAY review of court dockets and Justice Department records found. The decision to prosecute everyone caught entering the USA illegally flooded federal courts with thousands of cases, most of them involving minor immigration violations that resulted in no jail time and a $10 fee.

The Short List is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Today, it's brought to you by editors Brett Molina and Teresa Lo.

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