HILO, Hawaii

Storms threatening U.S.

Forecasters on Wednesday downgraded Hurricane Madeline to a tropical storm as it veered past Hawaii’s Big Island, but officials reiterated warnings to prepare for heavy rain and strong winds. Meanwhile, Hurricane Lester was about 1,000 miles from Hawaii and expected to drop to a tropical storm by Sunday. Elsewhere, the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Hermine had formed in the Gulf of Mexico and was centered about 350 miles from Tampa, Fla. It was expected to pick up speed and approach the northwest Florida coast Thursday night. A warning was dropped about a tropical depression that had been moving toward North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C.

Voter rights groups cheer

A divided U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The decision — a victory for voting rights groups and President Barack Obama’s Justice Department — means voters won’t have to show one of several qualifying photo IDs when casting ballots in the presidential battleground state. Early voting also reverts to 17 days, to begin Oct. 20.

ATLANTA

Ex-officer faces charges

A grand jury on Wednesday charged a white former Atlanta police officer with felony murder and other crimes in the death of an unarmed black man who was driving a car. The Fulton County grand jury also indicted James Burns on charges of aggravated assault, making a false statement and two counts of violation of oath of office in the June 22 killing of 22-year-old Deravis Caine Rogers, according to defense attorney Drew Findling. Burns has been out on bond since his arrest.

NEW YORK

Marijuana use increases

New research shows more U.S. adults are using marijuana, using it more often and far fewer think it’s risky. That’s understandable, experts say, as dozens of states now allow medical marijuana and four states have recently legalized pot for recreational use. More than a half million U.S. adults participated in the survey over a dozen years, and the responses show a shift in attitude. Only a third of adults in 2014 said they thought weekly marijuana use was dangerous, down from half of adults in 2002. The study was published online Wednesday by the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

Compiled from wire reports