Tropical Storm Florence, which came ashore in North Carolina as a hurricane Friday and has moved slowly over both Carolinas since, has claimed 14 lives, including a mother and baby whose house was crushed by a tree. Record rain across the storm’s 300-mile swath has trapped hundreds — many rescued by a volunteer flotilla — and forced 20,000 into emergency shelters, while blacking out nearly 1 million power customers. As the storm moves northwest into the Appalachian Mountains, one forecaster warned it would bring flash flooding “unlike anything in recent memory.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
The year’s strongest storm cut a deadly swath through the Philippines Saturday with 165 mph winds, reportedly killing more than 50 people. It also caused 51 landslides as it tore across the main island of Luzon, with many of the 250,000 affected in remote areas where damage and casualties were difficult to assess. Heading northeast to the heavily populated Chinese coast, Mangkhut toppled trees, ripped off roofs and smashed windows in Hong Kong, where authorities put out their most severe storm warning, virtually shutting down the city of 7.3 million people.
As President Donald Trump mulls a new summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid Pyongyang’s disappointing progress on nuclear disarmament, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is heading into the breach. He’s scheduled his third meeting with Kim for Tuesday — four days after the technically warring nations set up their first liaison office in the North’s border town of Kaesong. Now the peninsula waits for Trump, who canceled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to Pyongyang last month, to decide if he wants his own meeting with Kim.
After insisting he wouldn’t, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller as part of Friday’s guilty plea to charges related to his work for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians. Manafort was convicted of financial fraud last month and will now avoid a second trial. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the deal has “absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign,” but legal experts say it indicates that Manafort has already provided information that strikes closer to the White House.
It’s far from over. The financial crisis of 2008 sent shock waves through the global economy, upending lives as seemingly disconnected as American hedge fund managers and British store clerks. It felled banks, withered retirement accounts and shuttered storefronts. Even today, as the U.S. approaches full employment, some wonder what’s recovered: the economy, or the people working in it? Prices have outpaced earnings, and many find themselves worse off than 10 years ago. Meanwhile, lingering fears entertain the possibility of another crash.
Poland’s recent history could be a preview of how U.S. polarization plays out, argues Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Applebaum. For those left behind by liberal democracy, she writes, conspiracy theories can trigger a revolt against it. For the Poles, that meant unfounded scenarios explaining the 2010 airplane crash that killed their president. In America, the birther movement and supposed immigration-induced crime waves have similarly helped undermine trust in democratic institutions like courts — convincing large swaths of the electorate their lives will improve when a new order is imposed.
The Week Ahead: President Trump planned to launch Hispanic Heritage Month, but the House Hispanic Caucus Chair has declined an invitation after Trump’s denial of Puerto Rico hurricane deaths. The U.N. General Assembly’s 73rd session opens Tuesday, but without an anticipated appearance by embattled Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi. And the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Thursday vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, despite last week’s anonymous sexual assault accusation against him, which he denies.
Know This: A suspected shark attack has fatally injured a 26-year-old man as he swam at a beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A U.S. Border Patrol agent faces murder charges in the deaths of four women in Laredo, Texas. And NASA launched the last of its 100 Delta II rockets Saturday, carrying a laser mapping satellite system to measure climate change’s effect on polar ice.
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The business of “voluntourism” is booming, but it’s financing wasteful and unhealthy practices like parents abandoning their kids. Aid organizations have found that many “orphans” visited by paying volunteers have parents who believe their kids will benefit from the education and health care provided by orphanages, some housing almost no parent-less children. Experts say it’s better to use the money for assistance closer to families’ homes — where local skilled labor could build 15 houses for the cost of one built by untrained students looking for selfies and special experiences.
Phones and other devices seem the least of our power worries — but that cloud could burst. The electricity demands of global information and communications technology now generate only about 2 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. But with digital demand growing exponentially, that could increase to 20 percent in little over a decade. That includes the proliferation of power-hungry, cavernous data centers and cryptocurrencies’ seemingly endless demand for computing capacity. While technology is also becoming more power-thrifty, experts doubt the efficiency curve can stay ahead of humankind’s voracious data appetite.
Millennials in Tajikistan were just kids when their nation erupted into a conflict that claimed 100,000 lives. Today, hundreds of thousands work abroad and most families must subsist on less than $1,000 a year. But in the capital, Dushanbe, young entrepreneurs are making use of the country’s notoriously slow internet to transform their city. They’re organizing everything from car buying to festivals — and even online forums despite expression in Tajikistan being far from free — while being careful not to rile their autocratic government.
It’s a lifesaver. Algorithms sort huge pools of potential kidney donors with recipients who are unsuccessfully paired with other, noncompatible donors, creating chains of donations between disparate members. Nearly 6,000 people have received transplants this way since nephrologists, computer scientists and economists fine-tuned the first such algorithm in 2000. Those matches took biology into account — but what about morality? Now programmers are training digital minds to factor in recipients’ ages and healthy habits in order to apply human values in deciding who most deserves the gift of life.
As the NFL kicks off a new year, body weight could prove to be this season’s thorniest issue. Part of the “roughing the passer” regulations of 1995, the rule’s been tweaked to say defenders cannot throw quarterbacks down or (instead of “and”) land on them with most of their body weight. Commentators predict the rule will become a nightmare for defenders if they cannot adapt quickly. In the season’s first week alone, 15 roughing-the-passer penalties were assessed — five of which were body weight violations.