For the first time since 1943, the Swedish Academy has announced it won’t award a literature prize in 2018 — this time not due to a world war, but a sexual assault scandal. Local media reported allegations of assault against the husband of an academy member, but attempts to cut ties with him led to internal demotions, half the academy resigning, and eventually intervention from the Swedish king. “Who would really care to accept this award under the current circumstances?” asked one academy member. Two prizes will be awarded next year.
The Presidential Daily Brief
President Donald Trump previously insisted he didn’t know about Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels, allegedly to keep quiet about an affair. But yesterday, Rudy Giuliani, a recent addition to Trump’s legal team, told Fox News that the president reimbursed his longtime lawyer for the cash. Giuliani may have been attempting to guard against accusations of campaign finance violations. This morning, Trump confirmed he paid Cohen — in a move aimed at stopping what he called “false and extortionist accusations” — and insisted it had nothing to do with campaign cash.
He might want to slam on the brakes. Tesla’s cash reserves fell by $700 million in the first quarter of 2018 — and the company’s shares fell 5 percent yesterday after CEO Elon Musk, on a conference call, cut off analysts’ questions about capital and customers, saying they were “dry.” He instead answered questions from a YouTube host about long term projects like a network of self-driving cars. Tesla announced it’ll shutter its California factory for ten days this quarter, though Musk promised to still meet production goals.
The states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh suffered 80-mph winds as deadly dust storms battered towns and villages, killing at least 91 people and injuring over 160 more. People were killed by falling trees and walls, and several houses collapsed when they were struck by lightning. India often sees such storms, but rarely do so many die. The country’s government says it will pay the equivalent of about $6,000 to the family of each person killed by the storm as relief workers head to the affected areas.
We’ll always have Facebook. The embattled data firm has announced it’s shutting down and entering bankruptcy, just weeks after revelations that it improperly accessed the personal data of 87 million Facebook users for its political clients — which included President Trump’s 2016 campaign. The scandal led to CEO Alexander Nix’s suspension in March and sparked a heated public debate over Facebook’s handling of user information. In a statement, Cambridge Analytica said all its clients were driven away by “unfounded accusations.” Meanwhile, Facebook said it’s continuing its own investigation into the breach.
Know This: Rising sea levels are threatening to kill Florida’s mangrove trees — and with them the Everglades. Multiple White House sources say President Trump has all but decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. And Australia’s Commonwealth Bank says it has lost the bank records of 20 million people, which were stored on magnetic tapes and meant to be destroyed by a contractor.
Remember This Number: $1 each. That’s the amount of a settlement that the two 23-year-old Black men arrested while waiting peacefully at a Starbucks in Philadelphia reached with the city — that, and the promise of a $200,000 program for Philadelphia high school students who want to become entrepreneurs.
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If you want a peace prize, prepare for war. Despite President Trump’s bellicose rhetoric and many tweeted threats of missiles, 18 Republican members of Congress have formally asked the Norwegian Nobel committee to consider him for the Peace Prize for his work to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula. It’s Trump’s first legitimate nomination, though the Nobel committee announced earlier this year that it had received multiple forged nominations for him. Six of the lawmakers who signed the letter are currently running for office in deeply conservative districts.
Forget supersonic, these missiles are hyper. New projectiles are being designed to travel up to 20 times faster than the speed of sound as world powers continue to up the military ante. That could leave traditional missile defense systems behind, and nations are scrambling to upgrade their protection as well as their arsenals. These hypersonic super weapons — as fast as ballistic missiles and as maneuverable as cruise missiles — may also reduce the U.S. military’s advantage of having a huge spread of bases and fleets around the world.
Researchers are on the hunt. A 700,000-year-old rhino skeleton recently unearthed on an island in the Philippines shows signs that it was butchered by a tool-wielding hominin. That’s at least 400,000 years too early for Homo sapiens, so the hunters were likely Homo erectus, who went extinct around 140,000 years ago. But that raises big questions because the early human ancestor wasn’t thought to be seafaring. Now researchers are reconsidering what they know about ancient hominins and how they migrated through the world in the Middle Pleistocene.
Following his conviction last week for sexual assault, Cosby has been erased from the Television Academy’s list of honorees, and a statue of him that was removed during renovations reportedly won’t be returned. The move to shun the comedian, who was inducted in 1992 during the final season of The Cosby Show, follows recent decisions by universities to strip him of honorary degrees. Earlier this week, Yale University rescinded Cosby’s 2003 honorary doctorate of humane letters — the first honorary degree revoked in the institution’s 317-year history.
Washington’s NFL team is the latest to see its cheerleading squad requirements come under fire — this time over reports from multiple cheerleaders who say a 2013 calendar shoot in Costa Rica required some of them to be topless in front of male sponsors and FedEx Field suite holders. Later, some were selected by sponsors to escort the men to a nightclub. “We weren’t asked, we were told,” one cheerleader explained. The team’s director, who called herself a “mama bear,” denied that attendance was mandatory.