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Did you know? Shark activity in Florida reaches its peak between April and October, but it looks like the season is going out with a bang. A 2,000-pound great white has recently been spotted swimming up and down the coast.
Let’s start with a bit of good news: A woman who was missing for days in a California National Park was found alive and safe after she spelled out S.O.S. with rocks.
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California is battling more than a dozen blazes that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and a new wildfire has just cropped up, adding to the mess. The Getty Fire broke out near Los Angeles yesterday, in an area known for its high-dollar houses and famous residents. Fire doesn’t care how rich you are, though, so many in the area, including NBA star LeBron James, were evacuated. One place that wasn’t: The Getty Museum, a hub of one of the largest art organizations in the world. Its Los Angeles-area building is made of reinforced concrete designed to withstand wildfire threats. Power outages have also been a serious concern in the wildfire-ravaged area, and yesterday California’s Public Utilities Commission announced it is launching a formal investigation into the practice of investor-owned utilities initiating planned outages.
2. Essex truck tragedy
We’re learning more about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 39 people in a shipping container found last week in Essex, in southeast England. British investigators are still trying to determine the identities and nationalities of the eight women and 31 men in the container, which was on the back of a truck. Each person was carrying a bag of personal belongings and many had mobile phones, which are being downloaded and forensically analyzed. At first, authorities said the victims may have been Chinese, but that assumption was thrown into question when at least one of the passengers was found to be Vietnamese. Now, the incident is believed to be a fatal example of a smuggling operation in which people from Vietnam pay to be transported illegally – and often in dangerous conditions – to Europe for a chance at a better life. A 25-year-old man, who was the driver of the truck, has been arrested and charged with manslaughter.
You’ll have to shelve your spooky Brexit Halloween costume. The European Union has approved the UK’s request for a three-month extension to the Brexit process, avoiding a no-deal split at the end of the month. However, more scary times lay ahead. European leaders gave the UK a “flextension” until January 2020, which means the torturous process will likely continue through the end of the year. The agreement isn’t exactly a win for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, either. Remember, he really didn’t want to extend the Brexit date, and when he agreed to, he wanted an early general election in exchange. That’s not going to happen. Yesterday, Parliament rejected his bid to hold an early election, which would have helped him secure more political power. Johnson says his party is going to continue to fight for the election timeline they want.
It was another weekend of protests and unrest in major cities across the globe. In Lebanon, protesters joined hands on Sunday to form a human chain that connected the country’s north and south, a symbolic display of national unity during a period of political turmoil that has been dubbed the “October Revolution.” On Saturday in Chile, President Sebastian Piñera asked all of his ministers to resign so he could reshuffle his Cabinet in response to days of mass demonstrations. In Hong Kong, where ever-widening demonstrations have dragged on since June, protesters are beginning to feel the fatigue of months of unrest. Hong Kong is also facing a recession, as the protests have sent tourism and retail numbers plunging.
4. 2020 race
Lebanon has been paralyzed by days of protests, and now Central Bank Governor Riad Salame says the country may be on the verge of economic collapse if an “immediate solution” isn’t found for the unrest. Lebanon’s banks have been closed since the demonstrations, sparked by a series of proposed austerity measures, began nearly two weeks ago. Protesters are forcing road closures throughout the country and filling the streets of the country’s urban centers to demand the resignation of the national unity government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Last week, Hariri released an action plan to try and appease protesters, but it didn’t work. Salame claims Hariri would resign, but fears what would happen if there was a vacancy in leadership.
5. Katie Hill
A six-week strike at General Motors came to a close last week, but the precedent it set could influence union negotiations with other big auto manufacturers. Fifty-thousand hourly workers at GM went on strike in September to protest, among other things, GM’s closure of several US plants. The result was the longest auto industry work stoppage in more than 20 years. A four-year labor deal approved by the United Auto Workers union was ratified a few days ago, ending the strike. Now, the pressure is on Ford and Fiat Chrysler to bring their new labor deals to the table. Both companies had trouble getting their contracts approved by union members four years ago, and if their terms aren’t acceptable now, workers have more incentive to go on strike to get what they want.
Democratic Representative Katie Hill of California announced her resignation from Congress yesterday in the face of an ethics investigation into allegations Hill engaged in an improper relationship with a congressional staffer. Hill also faced controversy when a conservative blog published racy photos of her last week and alleged she and her estranged husband had a separate relationship with a campaign staffer. Hill, who is openly bisexual, has admitted to this relationship. Hill said she was forced to resign because of the actions of her “abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives.” Hill contends it was her husband who leaked the photos and began the campaign of attacks against her.
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‘Spooky face’ spotted in Hubble telescope image
Of all the places one wants to see a spooky face, space is definitely the last.
World’s first guitar-shaped hotel is open
And to think for all this time we’ve been living in a world WITHOUT a guitar-shaped hotel?
Apple unveils fancy new noise-canceling AirPods
Now you can pay $250 to constantly worry about losing one of your expensive AirPods.
Number of the day
The number of people who fell victim to phishing scams in 2018, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report. Such scams con people out of millions of dollars a year.
That’s how many days the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane spent in orbit before recently coming back down to Earth. It was the longest mission in the mysterious military test program’s history.
Quote of the day
“The Republic will never tolerate hatred. Everything will be done to punish the perpetrators and protect our compatriots of the Muslim faith.”
– French President Emmanuel Macron, condemning an attack on a mosque in Bayonne yesterday. Two older men were seriously injured in the incident, and the suspect is an 84-year-old man with far-right ties.
May we all find something that brings us as much joy as this dog finds jumping into leaf piles. (Click here to view)
Give your eyes (and mind) a little exercise with this delightfully homemade Rube Goldberg machine. (Click here to view)