‘Welcome back to planet Earth’
After a roughly two-month stay on the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley returned home Sunday in a history-making SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. The spacecraft made a safe splashdown off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, the first NASA splashdown in 45 years. The mission was a demonstration flight of SpaceX’s crewed Dragon spacecraft, and the return leg of the trip marked the final stage in the more than 60-day flight to the International Space Station. The mission marked the first time in nearly a decade that NASA astronauts launched from U.S. soil to the ISS. “On behalf of the SpaceX and NASA teams, welcome back to planet Earth,” a mission manager at SpaceX’s headquarters in California said.
Tropical Storm Isaias skirts Florida, aims for Carolinas
Bands of rain from Isaias soaked portions of Florida’s east coast and wind gusts of more than 70 mph were reported Sunday as the powerful tropical storm swirled just offshore, strengthening a bit in mid-afternoon but presenting less of a threat than initially feared. Isaias is no longer forecast to regain hurricane strength, the National Hurricane Center said, meaning Florida will avoid the troubling scenario of grappling with the damage from a hurricane while in the midst of being pounded by the coronavirus pandemic. Still, Isaias is forecast to move north toward the Carolinas and potentially make landfall there Monday night, causing high winds and potentially dangerous storm surge, the National Weather Service said.
GOP, Dems deadlocked in COVID-19 relief negotiations
The White House and Congressional Democrats blamed each other Sunday for the current deadlock in the deliberations over a new stimulus deal to combat the impacts of the coronavirus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained steadfast in her desire to pass a larger bill and not take a piecemeal approach suggested by Republicans and the White House, such as a short-term extension of the unemployment benefit. The group has spent days trying to reconcile priorities for what would be a fifth round of stimulus funding. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are set to continue talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Monday.
Apple Fire rages in Southern California
More than a thousand Southern California firefighters and multiple aircraft were working Sunday to battle the Apple Fire near Beaumont, which has spread to more than 20,000 acres, or 32 square miles, and sent smoke drifting to Arizona. It continues to threaten thousands of homes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The massive blaze, which began Friday evening as two smaller fires that eventually merged, continued to grow over the weekend — fed by low humidity, a slight breeze, thick vegetation and triple-digit temperatures.
About 7,800 people from 2,600 residences have been ordered to evacuate, officials said late Saturday. No injuries have been reported. Fire officials say a cause remains under investigation.
The FDA’s “do-not-use list of dangerous hand sanitizer products” now includes 101 varieties that should be avoided as they may contain methanol, a potentially fatal ingredient.
The vote to renominate President Trump is set to be conducted in private later this month, marking the first party nominating convention in modern history to be closed to reporters.
The retirement of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key figure in the impeachment of President Trump, became official on Saturday. He cited “bullying, intimidation and retaliation” from the White House for his decision to retire, according to a statement from his lawyer.
Wilford Brimley has died. The folksy character actor was famous for his roles in films including “Cocoon,”http://news.yahoo.com/”The Natural” and “The Firm.” He was 85.
JBS Food Canada recalls more than 38,000 pounds of ground beef because it was “not presented for import re-inspection into the United States.”
The USDA issued a health alert for frozen taquitos and chimichangas that may contain plastic, posing a choking hazard.
While President Trump says TikTok will be banned in the U.S. over how the Chinese-owned company uses Americans’ data, the video app says it’s “here for the long run.”
7 Marines, Navy sailor presumed dead as rescue effort halted
A massive search and rescue operation for seven Marines and a Navy sailor who went missing after a training accident off the California coast has been halted and all are presumed dead, authorities said Sunday. Fifteen Marines and the sailor were participating in a routine training exercise off the coast of San Clemente Island on Thursday when their amphibious assault vehicle began taking on water and sank. Eight Marines were pulled from the water – one died and two others remained hospitalized in critical condition Sunday, the Marines said in a statement. Efforts will now turn to finding and recovering the bodies, including equipment designed to survey the sea floor, which is too deep for divers to reach.
More weekly coronavirus records set as pandemic rages on
Three states set weekly records for new COVID-19 cases while eight states had a record number of deaths in a week, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Saturday shows. New case records were set in Alaska, Hawaii and Tennessee, and also Puerto Rico. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina and Texas.
Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has been lobbying for in-class options as schools begin to open next week, spiked to a new record with 1,245 deaths last week.
Portland police declare unlawful assembly during weekend protest
For the first time since the presence of federal agents in Portland, law enforcement and protesters noticeably clashed Saturday night. The Portland Police Bureau declared an unlawful assembly and told people to disperse or they may be subject to use of force or be arrested just before 10 p.m. PT. Police stated that protesters threw glass bottles and directed lasers at officers. Police were seen charging, multiple times, at protesters in the area. Activists and Oregon officials urged people at Saturday night’s protest in Portland to re-center the focus on Black Lives Matter, three days after the Trump administration agreed to reduce the presence of federal agents.
More hiccups for the MLB in returning to play
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, believing the recent outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests was caused by players failing to adhere to health and safety protocols, warned players union chief Tony Clark on Friday that the season could be shut down unless players start showing more discipline. That news came before a weekend of more cancellations and opt-outs. New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes did not report to the ballpark for a game Sunday, leading to hours of speculation about his whereabouts, but it was announced later in the day that he had opted out of the season. Meanwhile, Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, a 27-year-old, is out for the year with a heart condition that he developed while recovering from COVID-19.
NHL player vows to fight racism, kneels during anthem
The NBA and NHL, both operating in a bubble-like format, had a busy weekend schedule packed with games. Racial injustice continued to be a big theme in the restart of both leagues. Minnesota Wild player Matt Dumba knelt for the national anthem after giving a moving speech on racism. At the NBA bubble in Orlando, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who chose to stand for the national anthem, gave a 374-word history lesson and commentary about race and treatment of Black people in America.
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This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Contributing: Associated Press.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: SpaceX, Isaias, Apple Fire, COVID-19 relief: The weekend’s biggest news