wildfires in hawaii, death toll expected to rise, Elon Musk cagefight

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In today’s newsletter: The wildfires in Hawaii, which have now killed at least 96 people, still have many searching desperately for their family members. Plus, Mark Zuckerberg says it’s “time to move on” from the potential cage fight with Elon Musk. 

Here’s what to know today.

Officials say Hawaii wildfire damage is close to $6 billion as death toll rises to 96 

The death toll from the wildfires in Hawaii climbed to 96, with officials expecting it to rise, making it the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said the damage was estimated at close to $6 billion, and the fires were likely to be the largest natural disaster in the state’s history.

The 2,170-acre Lahaina focused fire, initially said to be 100% contained on Aug. 8, was 85% contained. One Lahaina resident said cell phones were ringing in body bags as survivors desperately looked for their missing family members.

Pointing to structures that belonged to his aunt and uncle, Charlie, 55, who has lived in Lahaina his whole life, said he knows “every family that lost their home.”

The fire moved quickly through the area, leaving it looking “like a war zone,” Charlie said.

Follow NBC News’ latest coverage on the wildfires in Hawaii. 

GOP candidates prepare for possibility that Trump shows up at the first GOP debate

Donald Trump hasn’t committed to the first GOP presidential primary debate next week, but he’ll be there — whether it’s onstage or in his opponents’ heads. 

The campaigns of four of the seven candidates who say they’ve qualified for the Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee acknowledged to NBC News they’re holding debate prep sessions as if Trump will be there.

The focus on Trump in the run-up to the debate is a sign of the power he wields over the field and his potential to wreak havoc. With just more than a week before they step onto the highest-profile stage of the campaign yet, the GOP presidential candidates are still unsure of their precise target.

Today’s Talker: Mark Zuckerberg says Elon Musk isn’t serious about fighting…

…and that it’s time to move on. The possibility of a cage match between Zuckerberg and Musk doesn’t seem to be happening after Zuckerberg dismissed Musk for allegedly delaying their showdown. In his latest comments, Zuckerberg said that while he was ready to fight, Musk kept coming up with reasons he couldn’t. 

Politics in Brief

Trump investigations: If former President Donald Trump is indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, law requires that cameras be allowed into judicial proceedings with a judge’s approval, meaning the potential trial could play out on television. 

Election 2024: Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he would support a national ban on abortion after the first three months of pregnancy, only to later walk back on the stance, alleging he “misunderstood” repeated questions.

Arizona voters: President Biden used a recent visit to the state to talk about his economic wins, but many voters in the state aren’t seeing the benefits.

Staff Pick: School districts are scrambling 

There’s a perfect storm for educators right now. Millions of students are heading back to school soon and districts still have vacant positions. Teacher shortages are aggravated by the pandemic for yet another school year, and the political climate isn’t helping either. School administrators are trying their best to fill in the gaps through hiring long-term substitutes, but students pay the ultimate price.  Elizabeth Both, associate platforms editor

In Case You Missed It

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

 Packing a lunch — whether it be a sad desk sandwich, leftovers or a fresh salad — is a great way to eat more affordable, healthy meals daily. And a great lunch box will help you transport your food to the office without spills or spoiling. Our Select team rounded up the top-rated adult lunch boxes and portable dining accessories to make packing food more fun and easy. 

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