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Morning news brief

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Florida's Gulf Coast is bracing for a major hurricane.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Idalia is the hurricane's name, and it's set to make landfall today in the state's Big Bend area. It's now a Category 4 storm with 130-mile-per-hour winds. Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, and many other officials are urging residents to evacuate coastal areas.

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RON DESANTIS: Storm surge could reach 10 to 15 feet in some areas of the Big Bend. That is life-threatening storm surge. That is storm surge that if you're there while that hits, it's going to be very difficult to survive that.

MARTÍNEZ: Hurricane Idalia is coming ashore in one of Florida's least developed areas, but it's expected to have a big impact on communities all along the Gulf Coast, as well as in Georgia and the Carolinas.

MARTIN: And NPR's Greg Allen is with us now from St. Petersburg to tell us more. Greg, good morning.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Good morning, Michel.

MARTIN: So tell us the latest on the storm.

ALLEN: Well, Idalia has grown dramatically over the last several hours. It's undergone what meteorologists call a rapid intensification. We've been seeing that a lot from hurricanes in recent years. It's on track now to come ashore a bit north of Cedar Key. That's in the Big Bend area where Florida's Gulf Coast meets the panhandle. It's relatively undeveloped there with mostly small towns. At the same time, it's an area that's especially susceptible to storm surge, and many of the homes are older and not really built to withstand hurricanes. So with 130-mile-per-hour winds and a storm surge as high as 16 feet, Idalia is going to do a lot of damage.

MARTIN: Nearly 30 counties in Florida have issued either voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders. Do we have a sense of whether people in vulnerable areas did get out?

ALLEN: Well, that's always a major question in storms like this one. Governor DeSantis says he believes people have evacuated from the most vulnerable areas. He says that includes Cedar Key. That island is expected to be completely inundated by the storm surge.

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DESANTIS: I think on Cedar Key, the vast majority have done it. I don't think it's 100%, but I think it was a lot and probably a bigger percentage in some of those really sensitive areas than happened in Hurricane Ian.

ALLEN: In Hurricane Ian last year, many people stayed behind, and dozens of those who did drowned in the storm surge. Idalia is coming ashore in a much less populated area, and there's hope that we won't see a repeat of those numbers.

MARTIN: What about in the Tampa Bay area where you are now?

ALLEN: Well, there are evacuation orders for coastal zones here. This area is expecting a 4- to 6-foot storm surge. We're already seeing water in the streets. Many people have left. But on St. Petersburg Beach, Woody's, a bar on the water, was open yesterday. Owner Roxy Riles says they plan to be open today despite a mandatory evacuation order.

ROXY RILES: A lot of the locals aren't leaving. We closed last year and got a lot of complaints, which was surprising. But this year we're like, you know what? We're staying open. We built the wall. We poured new foundations. We've got new patios. We're ready to go. Everything's bolted down and secured. We're ready.

ALLEN: Riles recently built a new 5-foot flood wall and made other improvements that she thinks will help her business withstand a storm surge.

MARTIN: I hope so.

ALLEN: Yeah.

MARTIN: What are officials' plans to respond to the storm after it makes landfall?

ALLEN: Well, Florida's emergency management director is warning that search and rescue crews will not be able to respond to calls for help until after the storm passes. They say they may begin rescues this evening if necessary. In terms of impacts, there's likely to be widespread power outages from downed trees and lines. Tens of thousands of linemen are pre-positioned and ready to go in to restore power, but that can take time, especially if we see major damage. Idalia is a fast-moving storm and expected to still be a hurricane when it gets into Georgia by this afternoon. Officials are warning about the possibility of flooding and tornadoes as it moves through Georgia into the Carolinas.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Greg Allen in St. Petersburg. Greg, thank you.

ALLEN: You're welcome.

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MARTIN: A former leader of the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys will appear for sentencing in federal court later this morning.

MARTÍNEZ: Enrique Tarrio was convicted for seditious conspiracy and other crimes in May. This is all related to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. One of his lieutenants, Ethan Nordean, will also be sentenced today.

MARTIN: NPR's Jaclyn Diaz will be in the courtroom later this morning, and she's here with us now. Good morning.

JACLYN DIAZ, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So could you just first walk us through what's going to happen in court today?

DIAZ: Yeah. So the sentencing hearing for Enrique Tarrio will start today at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Tarrio is the former national chairman of the Proud Boys, and he's looking at a possible 33-year prison sentence. Ethan Nordean, a fellow member of the Proud Boys, is also going to be sentenced this afternoon. He's looking at around 27 years if the federal judge goes along with the prosecution's recommendations. And this is all for their role in a conspiracy to stop the certification of the 2020 election results in Congress and to keep Donald Trump in the White House. If Tarrio and Nordean get sentenced to more than two decades in prison, it will mark the most severe punishment given to any January 6 rioter. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy in a separate case back in May, and he received the longest sentence so far of 18 years.

MARTIN: And all this follows a monthslong trial earlier this year. Would you now walk us through how we got to this day?

DIAZ: That's right. It's been a long road. The events that led to Tarrio and Nordean's conviction for seditious conspiracy goes back to January 6, 2021. Prosecutors say that the two men, along with other members of the Proud Boys, conspired to block the certification of the 2020 election results. What's interesting is that Tarrio wasn't even at the Capitol on January 6. He was arrested in Washington, D.C., days earlier for burning a local church's Black Lives Matter banner. His attorneys have tried to argue for a lighter sentence because of that, but prosecutors say he still directed Proud Boys to take over the Capitol building. Nordean was actually there that day and was involved in fights with police who were trying to protect the building. Prosecutors say Tarrio, Nordean and others consider themselves foot soldiers of the right.

MARTIN: And I understand that there was a hearing yesterday where some of the people - police officers who were attacked by the Proud Boys spoke. Can you just tell us a bit more about what happened there?

DIAZ: Yeah, we heard from three police officers yesterday. Two of them were in the courtroom to address the court. They were U.S. Capitol Police Officer Shea Cooney and U.S. Capitol Police Inspector Thomas Boyd. Both officers got emotional during their fairly brief statement to the court. They talked about how they honestly didn't think they would make it through January 6, 2021, alive. According to court documents, Cooney had actually come face to face with Nordean during the riot. She said she and her other officers were beaten by rioters, many who claim to support law enforcement. And hearing those voices really helped emphasize the pain and fear that officers felt that day and they're still dealing with.

MARTIN: Once Tarrio and Nordean are sentenced today, what can we expect next?

DIAZ: So there are three other defendants who were tried alongside Tarrio and Nordean who also await sentencing this week. They're facing between 20 to 30 years each. Other than that, we still have many other January 6 rioters who are awaiting their sentence in their own cases.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Jaclyn Diaz. Jaclyn, thank you so much.

DIAZ: Thank you.

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MARTIN: And now to Spain, where there is a reckoning over sexism and women's sports.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Prosecutors there are investigating the head of Spain's soccer federation after he forcibly kissed one of the country's top women's soccer players.

MARTIN: NPR's Laurel Wamsley has been following the story, and she is with us now. Good morning.

LAUREL WAMSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: OK, so for people who didn't catch this, this started just after Spain's team made history and won its first ever Women's World Cup. Take it from there. What happened next?

WAMSLEY: Well, during the medal ceremony, Spain's Football Federation chief, Luis Rubiales, was congratulating the player, Jenni Hermoso. He pulls her into this tight hug and then grabs her head with his hands and kisses her on the mouth. All of this was broadcast live around the world. Video also showed him making a crotch-grabbing gesture after Spain won as he stood in the dignitaries' box just a few feet away from the queen of Spain. The criticism was immediate, and Rubiales claimed the kiss was mutual, that he asked Hermoso for a little kiss and she said yes. But Hermoso says that conversation never happened, she never consented, and she did not like it. She said in a statement that she was vulnerable and the victim of a sexist act.

MARTIN: I have to say, I saw this myself when I was watching the end of the match, and I just had a hard time believing what I was seeing, right? So what has been the fallout?

WAMSLEY: Well, Rubiales still has a job, but it is extremely tenuous. Many thought he would resign last week at an emergency meeting of Spain's soccer federation, but he refused to. The entire Spanish team that just won the World Cup, plus another 50 players, put out a statement saying they will not play for Spain until Rubiales is out. FIFA, meanwhile, has suspended him pending an investigation. And then the government of Spain is working on multiple fronts in this case. There's a sports court that could declare Rubiales unfit to hold office. And there's also a separate investigation by federal prosecutors into whether Rubiales has committed a crime of sexual aggression.

MARTIN: Does Rubiales have any support in all this?

WAMSLEY: Not much. Certainly the most vocal of his supporters has been his mother, who announced that she has gone on hunger strike due to what she called the inhumane hounding of her son. And initially it seemed that Rubiales had a lot of support at the federation. When he gave that speech last week, refusing to resign, he was applauded by many in the federation, including the coaches of Spain's men's and women's national teams. But as the backlash has grown, those coaches eventually released statements condemning him. And now Spain's federation itself is calling for him to step down. They're citing unacceptable behaviors that have seriously damaged the image of Spanish football. And they're promising structural reforms. And for the federation, it is crucial to get this issue sorted. The country is bidding to co-host the 2030 World Cup, and their reputation has certainly been tarnished in all of this.

MARTIN: But I have to say that this feels bigger than soccer now. It seems like this has touched a nerve in Spain. Why is that?

WAMSLEY: Absolutely. Gender issues and women's rights have been a big topic in Spain in recent years. They sort of had their own #MeToo movement there, and it's culminated in new laws protecting the right to abortion and women's equality in the workplace. It's also important to note that there was already turmoil in this team even before the World Cup. Last year, 15 of Spain's top players said they would refuse to play for women's coach Jorge Vilda. And the players are now saying, see, this is what we were talking about. And it seems many people in Spain are saying, wow, this is bad. This has got to change. Over the last week, hundreds of protesters have gathered in the streets of Madrid. They're waving red cards and calling for Rubiales to resign. And there's a couple of hashtags that have attached themselves to this movement too. One is #ContigoJenni - we're with you, Jenni - and #SeAcabo - it's over.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Laurel Wamsley. Laurel, thank you.

WAMSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
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