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5 things for September 7: Irma, Trump, Russia, Australia vote, Michael Bennett
Historic. Unprecedented. Devastating. No word seems strong enough to convey the damage that Irma has brought to the Caribbean. So far, the hurricane has killed nine people. About 95% of buildings on Barbuda are damaged. More than a million people don't have power in Puerto Rico. And there are still millions in this monster storm's path.
We still don't know if Irma will hit the US, but people are getting out of the way. In Florida, there's gridlock on the roads as people evacuate. Governors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia have declared states of emergency.
And Irma, one of the strongest storms ever seen in the Atlantic, isn't alone out there. There are two other hurricanes -- Jose, out in the open Atlantic, and Katia, in the southern Gulf of Mexico. It's the first time since 2010 there have been three active hurricanes at the same time in the Atlantic Ocean. And we're only about halfway through the season.
Donald Trump likes to brag about making deals -- and being unpredictable. This time, it bit his own party. The President cut a deal -- with Democrats! -- to ensure passage of Hurricane Harvey disaster relief funding. The deal also raises the debt ceiling (but for only three months) and keeps the government funded through December. GOP leaders were "shell-shocked" by it because it puts Republicans in a tough spot. They don't want to raise the debt ceiling without getting cuts in government spending in return, but would they dare torpedo disaster relief for Harvey's victims to make that point?
So why did Trump do this? One, he wanted a win on something, and two, he wanted to get these items out of the way so Congress will have time to take up tax reform before the year ends. But one GOP Senate aide told CNN that what Trump did actually killed any hope of advancing his agenda this year.
Now, Facebook has been dragged into the Russia mess. The social media giant told congressional investigators it sold $100,000 in political ads during the presidential election to a so-called Russian troll farm that wanted to target US voters. The ads, Facebook's chief security officer says, were meant to sow discord among American voters by pumping up "divisive social and political messages." The use of social media to spread fake news and misinformation is a key part of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the US election.
Australia is going to hold a national vote on same-sex marriage. It will be a mail-in vote, and ballots will be sent to Australians starting next week. Voters have until November 7 to mail in their votes, and the final result will be revealed on November 15 -- but it won't be binding. Though a recent poll showed 63% of Australians supported same-sex marriage, domestic politics has stood in the way of making it legal. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he will introduce legislation to do just that if same-sex marriage is approved by voters, prompting several conservative politicians to promise to oppose it.
He won't stand for the national anthem before NFL games, and now football star Michael Bennett accuses the Las Vegas police of racially profiling him. Bennett, a defensive end with the Seattle Seahawks, said the cops put a gun near his head before handcuffing him after gunshots were heard following last month's Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. Bennett says he was detained simply because he was black and in the area of the shooting, but Las Vegas police said race had nothing to do with it and that the officers had genuinely believed Bennett may have been involved in the shooting.
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Pass the Bordeaux
Richard Branson rode out Hurricane Irma in style -- on his own private island, in a wine cellar, playing games -- because that's how billionaires roll.
Rap the vote
Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play and rap stars moderate forums for mayoral candidates.
For the first time in more than three decades, the semifinals of the women's US Open will be an all-American affair.
Makes you want to scream
The King of Pop is gone, but his music lives on. A new Michael Jackson album is due out in time for Halloween.
Doughnuts and subs don't mix?
A NASCAR driver reportedly lost his sponsorship with Subway after he handed out Dunkin' Donuts to race fans.
"I'm a very good diaper guy, which I didn't know I would be"
Actor and director George Clooney, on what it's like to be a father
The number of Gap and Banana Republic stores that are closing
Cat vs. spider
Another day, another cat video. This time Snowflake the Persian cat freaks out over a very real-looking robot spider. (And who wouldn't?) (Click to view)