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May 22, 2018

The Kilauea volcano continues to erupt on Hawaii's Big Island, and people in its vicinity are being warned not to breathe in the lava haze, or "laze," that results when lava mixes with seawater.

When lava is cooled by seawater, a glass forms. When that glass shatters, tiny shards are picked up by clouds of steam. Those clouds contain hydrochloric acid, which is also formed when lava and seawater mix. Hydrochloric acid can irritate the skin and eyes and make it hard to breathe. While laze "looks innocuous, it's not," Janet Babb, a geologist with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told The Associated Press.

Masks that are being passed out to local residents can keep out volcanic ash, but cannot filter the hydrochloric acid. Authorities are also warning people to stay far away from where the lava is entering the ocean, as waves can wash over the lava and send scorching hot water onto the shore. So far, the lava has destroyed about 40 homes, and officials have moved 50,000 gallons of flammable gas that had been stored at a geothermal plant near one of the volcano's vents. Catherine Garcia

2:39 p.m.

The National Enquirer's publisher is cooperating with New York prosecutors, telling them that it paid one of the women alleging she had an affair with President Trump $150,000 and did so specifically to prevent her from influencing the election.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said Wednesday that prosecutors reached a non-prosecution agreement with American Media, Inc., the Enquirer's publisher, and that as part of this agreement, AMI says it "made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate's presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election," per NBC News.

Karen McDougal, a model, says she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007, which Trump denies. Prosecutors also say AMI has admitted the "principal purpose" of paying McDougal was to "suppress" her story and "prevent it from influencing the election."

This news comes after Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison in part due to his role in violating campaign finance laws by paying McDougal in order to keep her silent about an alleged affair. Cohen did not pay McDougal directly but rather made arrangements for AMI to purchase the rights to her story but not publish it.

AMI's admission in court stands in contrast to its 2016 statement to The Wall Street Journal: "AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump." Brendan Morrow

2:31 p.m.

If Special Counsel Robert Mueller doesn't release all his dirt on President Trump, Michael Cohen just might do it himself.

Cohen, Trump's former fixer, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday for financial crimes, many of which also implicated the president. But in the months prior, Cohen spent more than 70 hours cooperating with Mueller's team as it investigates Trump's ties with Russia. And once Mueller "completes his investigation and issues his final report," Cohen plans to "state publicly all he knows about Mr. Trump," Cohen's representative Lanny Davis said in a statement.

Most of Cohen's financial crime charges, which composed the bulk of his sentence, stemmed from his hush money payments to two women on Trump's orders. Cohen acknowledged this and other close work with Trump during Wednesday's sentencing, tearfully saying he felt it was his "duty" to cover up his boss' "dirty deeds."

Just what those deeds are, though, largely remain sealed with Mueller's team. A prosecutor from the special counsel's office did say Wednesday that Cohen provided "valuable information" to the Russia investigation. But judging by just how redacted Mueller's previous reports have been, we'll likely have to wait for Cohen's tell-all to learn more. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:24 p.m.

It has not been a good day for Michael Cohen. The former lawyer and "fixer" for President Trump was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in hush-money payments to two women during the presidential campaign, and for lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings in Russia. But that's not all. In drawings of today's courtroom scene, sketch artist Jane Rosenberg depicted Cohen as a half-human, half-owl creature, looking wracked with guilt that his admissions of wrongdoing have done nothing to assuage.

REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Cohen's head — possibly swollen with self-recrimination and wonder at his fall — is nearly twice the size of that of the attorney at his side. Cohen's eyes seem to be literally sliding from his face, as if mere tears are not enough to convey his sorrow. The sketch seems an homage to Edvard Munch's The Scream (or, at least, to Rosenberg's similarly expressive 2015 work, Tom Brady) — could it be a similar commentary on man's anxiety? Cohen, for one, will soon have plenty of time to ponder the answer. Jacob Lambert

1:47 p.m.

First Oprah left us — now Ellen wants to leave us too.

The comedian and star of The Ellen DeGeneres Show is considering leaving daytime television after her contract ends in 2020. In a Wednesday profile in The New York Times, DeGeneres revealed that she's tired of dancing her rhythmless dance and thinks it might be time to move on.

Currently in its 16th season after originally airing in 2003, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has controlled the host's schedule for well over a decade. Her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, thinks quitting the show would give DeGeneres the opportunity to explore other creative projects such as radio and podcasts. "I just think she's such a brilliant actress and stand-up that it doesn't have to be this talk show for her creativity,” said de Rossi. "I don't see the end of her show as her career ending." However, there are others in DeGeneres' family, like her brother, who believe she shouldn't stop.

More recently, DeGeneres has started dipping back into stand-up (after 15 years!) with her new Netflix special, Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable. The special shows the comedian in a new light, reports BuzzFeed News, with DeGeneres poking fun at how fame has made her unrelatable and even cursing.

Whether she quits or not, DeGeneres hopes to act in more movies. In another sign of her breaking from her ultra-nice public persona, she says she'd like to play "someone unappealing." Read more at the The New York Times. Amari Pollard

1:29 p.m.

Britain is slated to leave the European Union — and its prime minister is ready to exit as well.

At a Conservative Party meeting on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she won't run as the party's leader in the next general election, a lawmaker at the meeting told Reuters. Instead, she'll step down as soon as "she has delivered an orderly Brexit," a member of Parliament tweeted Wednesday. May's revelation comes just ahead of a vote of no confidence scheduled for Wednesday night, which could force her out of office early.

May's approval has been waning the past few weeks as her signature promise to leave the E.U. flounders in Parliament. The U.K. voted for Brexit more than two years ago, but lawmakers have since been torn over just how close Britain should remain with the rest of Europe. May's Brexit deal was set for consideration in Parliament this week, but she postponed the vote over fears it would fail.

The whole Brexit debacle — which even some experts don't quite understand — sparked at least 48 pro-Brexit members of May's Conservative Party to trigger a no-confidence vote in their leader. If May gets no-confidence votes from a majority of Conservative MPs on Wednesday night, she'll have to step down and the opposing Tory party would vote on a new leader. Regardless of the no-confidence vote's results, May affirmed Wednesday she wouldn't try to lead the party again in the next general election slated for 2022, per Reuters.

Here's a helpful chart for what happens if May loses the vote this afternoon. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:47 p.m.

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday said he takes "full responsibility" for his actions before being sentenced to three years in prison.

Cohen in his hearing, which came after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, said that he is "getting my freedom back" after having lived in a "personal and mental incarceration" as a result of agreeing to work for Trump, per Courthouse News. While working for Trump, Cohen said he felt it was his "duty" to cover up his boss' "dirty deeds," and this "blind loyalty" to Trump caused him to "follow a path of darkness rather than light."

Cohen went on to apologize directly to the American people, saying, "You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust." By pleading guilty, Cohen said he wants to ensure “that history will not remember me as the villain of [Trump's] story," CNN reports.

Judge William Pauley subsequently sentenced Cohen to three years in prison, saying that Cohen "appears to have lost his moral compass" and that he "should have known better," Bloomberg reports. Cohen reportedly shook his head as if in disbelief as the sentence was read. Brendan Morrow

12:15 p.m.

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison on Wednesday for lying to Congress and for financial crimes, Courthouse News' Adam Klasfield reports. He also has to pay a $100,000 fine, and the sentence will begin March 6, likely in a minimum-security prison.

At a Manhattan federal courthouse, Cohen was sentenced to 36 months, or 3 years, for his guilty plea to New York prosecutors' eight counts of tax evasion and campaign finance violations — financial crimes in which Cohen implicated Trump. He got 2 more months for his late November deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in which he pleaded guilty to the federal crime of lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings with Russia. The 2-month sentence will be served concurrently with the 36 months.

In sentencing recommendations filed Friday, Mueller's team recommended leniency given Cohen's subsequent cooperation with the probe into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russian election interference. Mueller's team also affirmed Wednesday that Cohen provided "credible" and "valuable information" to the investigation. But in Friday's recommendations, the Southern District of New York said Cohen committed "serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment." A prosecutor speaking Wednesday said Cohen "didn't come anywhere close to assisting this office in an investigation."

Cohen's lawyer fought back against the Southern District in Wednesday's sentencing, saying his client "came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country." Still, the judge called each of Cohen's crimes "a serious offense against the United States," CNN says. Cohen on Wednesday said he took "responsibility" for his "blind loyalty to Donald Trump," per Courthouse News. Kathryn Krawczyk

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