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Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekend

‘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. 

In this screen grab from NASA TV, SpaceX 's Crew Dragon capsule spacecraft just before it splashes down in to the water after completing NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, August 2, 2020 off the coast of Pensacola, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
In this screen grab from NASA TV, SpaceX ‘s Crew Dragon capsule spacecraft just before it splashes down in to the water after completing NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, August 2, 2020 off the coast of Pensacola, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.

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. 

Waves driven by Tropical Storm Isaias crash over the jetty on the north side of the Palm Beach Inlet in Palm Beach Shores Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.
Waves driven by Tropical Storm Isaias crash over the jetty on the north side of the Palm Beach Inlet in Palm Beach Shores Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.

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.

Horses graze as flames from the Apple Fire skirt a ridge in a residential area of Banning, California, on Aug. 1, 2020.
Horses graze as flames from the Apple Fire skirt a ridge in a residential area of Banning, California, on Aug. 1, 2020.

Real quick

  • 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,””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.

P.S. Like this round up of stories? We send it to inboxes every afternoon. Sign up for “The Short List” newsletter here. 

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

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Alberta under heat warning for August long weekend

It’s going to be a scorcher across almost all of Alberta this August long weekend.

Environment Canada issued heat warnings Friday afternoon for almost the entire province, with the exception of Banff National Park and mountain areas to the south.

“A strong ridge of high pressure will bring above average heat for the long weekend,” Global Edmonton meteorologist Jesse Beyer said.

After a brief bit of relief on Thursday and Friday following several days of record-breaking temperatures, Environment Canada said hot daytime and overnight temperatures are expected to return Saturday and will persist through the weekend.

“Edmonton will be back into the 30 C [range] for most of the long weekend,” Beyer said.

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Southern Alberta will see temperatures a few degrees higher than central and northern Alberta, but overall for the next three days, daytime temperatures are set to reach the high 20s to low 30s combined with overnight lows near 14 to 16 C. Temperatures are expected to return to seasonal numbers early next week.

Read more:
Heat warnings continue for B.C.’s Southern Interior, 40 C forecast for Grand Forks

New challenges in the heat as Edmonton nears 30 degrees Tuesday

New challenges in the heat as Edmonton nears 30 degrees Tuesday

People are advised to take the following precautions to protect themselves, their families and their neighbours:

  • Consider rescheduling outdoor activities to cooler hours of the day
  • Take frequent breaks from the heat, spending time in cooled indoor spaces where possible
  • Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages to stay hydrated
  • Check for your children or pets before you exit your vehicle. Do not leave any person or pet inside a closed vehicle, for any length of time
  • Monitor for symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, such as high body temperature, lack of sweat, confusion, fainting and unconsciousness.

“Make sure to plan outdoor activities accordingly,” Beyer said.

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Read more:
COVID-19 is impacting ways Canadians can ‘beat the heat’

Environment Canada said special attention may be needed when it comes to people who are more susceptible to heat such as infants, children, seniors, and those with pre-existing lung, heart, kidney, nervous system, mental health or diabetic conditions, outdoor workers and those who are socially isolated.

Heat warnings are issued when very high temperatures are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach reopens this weekend

Clown fish and sea anemones no longer need be seen only in “Finding Nemo.” Visitors can again view the sea creatures in person at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific.

After closing for nearly three months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the aquarium will reopen to members beginning at 10:45 a.m. Friday and again at 9 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the aquarium will reopen to the public at 9 a.m., according to its website.

A peaceful trip to the aquarium may be the antithesis of a strenuous workout at the gym — another sector of the Los Angeles economy that is reopening Friday — but aquarium officials think it may be just what’s needed after the stay-at-home order that’s been in place since mid-March.

“The aquarium is a very tranquil place, and watching the animals in the exhibits can be very relaxing,” spokeswoman Claire Atkinson said. “It’s also a place where families come for escape.”

Visits will be by reservation only, and capacity will be limited. While the aquarium can accommodate between 10,000 and 13,000 people, it will allow only about a quarter of that inside each day.

Atkinson said the reservations for Friday were topping out at about 800 to 1,000.

Beginning next week, regular hours will be 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Guests must wear masks, maintain social distance and travel in groups of six or fewer people. Visitors’ temperatures will be checked prior to their entrance, and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the aquarium.

To prevent potential spread of the coronavirus, several programs are on hiatus, including animal meet-and-greets and behind-the-scenes tours. In addition, the Northern Pacific touch lab, horseshoe crab touch lab and Shark Lagoon children’s play area are all closed, officials said.

Though some fan favorites, including mascot appearances, won’t be available, a reimagined coral reef exhibit will debut. Sea enthusiasts can take a “virtual dive” into the Honda Pacific Visions Theater and meet new residents, including a green sea turtle, a red-footed booby and flashlight fish.

“Flashlight fish have glowing organs underneath their eyes that are full of bioluminescent bacteria,” said Atkinson, who finds the fish particularly enthralling. They “have sort of a flap so they can turn the organ around so it flickers on and off.”

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Met Eireann issues weather warning as ‘wintry falls’ forecast this weekend

Warming and relaxing near fireplace. Stock photo
Warming and relaxing near fireplace. Stock photo

Met Eireann has issued a weather warning as ‘wintry falls’ and temperatures as low as -2C are forecast for this weekend.

A status yellow wind warning has been issued for counties Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork and Kerry and will be valid from 6pm on Thursday to 9am on Friday. Mean wind speeds of 50 to 65km/h and gusts of 80 to 110km/h are expected.

Met Eireann has also warned that temperatures are forecast to drop to zero degrees on Friday night with wintry showers and frost.

On Saturday, temperatures are expected to further drop to -2C with brisk westerly winds and wintry showers. This will lead to a frosty start on Sunday morning with lingering ice in places.

Tom Cuddy, of Irish Water’s asset operations, said prolonged frost could lead to more water shortages in the Dublin area.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Cuddy appealed to people and businesses in the capital to conserve water coming up to the festive period.

It comes after 600,000 people were last month left with a boil water notice, on two separate occasions, resulting from problems with water quality at the plant.

While the semi-State works to address the issues at the plant, its capacity has been reduced, causing serious problems for the network.

“Essentially in the Greater Dublin area the supply and demand balance for drinking water is on the line.

“Our production capacity has reduced somewhat and there’s an inexorable increase in demand from households and from businesses as we come through the winter,” he said.

“This is a narrowing gap – the headroom between what we can produce and what’s demanded – and that has narrowed even further this year.

“In particular our production capacity has been reduced because we have constrictions at some of our treatment plants, in particular Leixlip.”

He said the semi-State was keen to raise people’s awareness about the issue.

“It’s very important that people are aware that they conserve water where they can, that they check their plumbing and that they report leaks,” he said.

The works at the Leixlip plant are not scheduled to be completed until next year.

Mr Cuddy said it was a rolling issue, “an enduring situation” that will go on for a number of months.

He said the other plants were at their maximum capacity to make up for the shortfall, while Irish Water was also repairing 1,500 leaks a month.

“There are the obvious winter challenges of cold weather. There’s also an increase in demand in customer use, particularly in businesses,” he said. He added the situation was “right on the line” but “stable” at the moment with no headroom in the event of sharp and prolonged frost.

According to Irish Water the current increase in demand is higher than any previous year and is 10 million litres a day, which, it said, was enough water to fill Liberty Hall and higher than this time last year.

It has appealed to people to conserve water through measures like turning off the tap while brushing teeth and shaving, which can save up to six litres of water per minute.

Irish Water has been upgrading the Vartry Water Supply Scheme by building a new treatment plant,

It has also upgraded the treated water reservoir at Stillorgan, representing an investment of approximately €200m.

“These upgrades are due to be completed in 2020,” it said, adding that at Leixlip Water Treatment Plant the old section of the plant is currently being upgraded on a phased basis.

The last boil water notice affected people in Dublin, Kildare and Meath for eight days.

It resulted from heavy rainfall washing amounts of organic matter into reservoirs.

This increased the turbidity (cloudiness) of the source water above acceptable levels.

Online Editors

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Man City vs Chelsea: Why title defence will enters its most critical phase this weekend

After his side’s victory over Manchester City a fortnight ago, Virgil van Dijk was asked whether Liverpool now faced competition from more than one team in the Premier League title race. He was reluctant to answer but acknowledged how well Leicester City and Chelsea have been playing. And then, without invitation, he threw fifth-placed and “difficult to beat” Sheffield United into the equation.

If that seems surprising, it should be said that Van Dijk’s answer was not the most sincere to ever be given in a post-match mixed zone. File it as a variation on your usual clichés, somewhere between “there are no easy games at this level” and “they don’t hand out trophies in November”. Liverpool’s celebrations of their victory that day did not suggest that they think they have more than one main title rival. For now, City are still very much considered the threat.

But seeing as we are listing clichés, it is also worth pointing out that the table does not lie. With nearly a third of the Premier League season gone, City actually sit closer to Sheffield United than to the league leaders. If the champions are still contenders, so too are Leicester and Chelsea, both a point ahead of the holders. Or, if you believe it is still too early to take Leicester and Chelsea seriously, then there must also be genuine reservations about City’s credentials.

City have 25 points, the fewest Pep Guardiola has won after the first 12 top-flight league matches of a season. This is the first time that he has been more than three behind the league leaders this far into a campaign. By the time he and his players welcome Chelsea to the Etihad in Saturday’s evening kick-off, they could be as many as twelve points off the pace. Lose to Chelsea and by full time, they may be four off third.

It would be hard for Van Dijk or anyone else to still consider them Liverpool’s main contenders if that all comes to pass. It is therefore not an exaggeration to say that if City still hope to win a third successive Premier League title, this is likely to be the most critical phase of their campaign. Starting Saturday and ending in late December, they embark on a run of less-than-appealing fixtures with next to no margin for error.

The eight teams City played prior to the Anfield defeat have averaged less than a point-a-game this season. Their next eight – Chelsea, Newcastle, Burnley, Manchester United, Arsenal, Leicester, Wolves and Sheffield United – have averaged more than a point-and-a-half. Of course, that difference is partly explained by seven of those opponents having not already played City, but each of those games still brings its own challenges.

City lost at St James’ Park last year, were held at Molineux and only won away at Burnley by a margin of 29.5mm. Guardiola told his players before that game that going to Turf Moor was like “going to the dentist”. A trip to the Emirates may be the most appealing of their four forthcoming away days, given Unai Emery’s many problems in north London, but Arsenal are more formidable at home than they are on the road.

At the Etihad, after Frank Lampard’s visit on Saturday, City host the first Manchester derby of the season against a United side that has proved itself capable of sitting deep and frustrating superior opposition, if little else. Leicester have flattered to deceive away to the traditional ‘top six’ so far but will fancy their chances of a result. Sheffield United are unlikely to roll over either. City will play them less than 48 hours after their Wolves trip.

But now is not only a critical time because of the stiff schedule. It was a theme of City’s title challenge last year that setbacks were followed by swift, positive responses. After over-exuberant Christmas celebrations led to back-to-back defeats in late December, they earned a hard-fought win at Southampton and then beat Liverpool at the Etihad, securing the three points that ultimately made all the difference.

Another league title looked a long way off following defeat at St James’ Park in late January but remarkably, City won their remaining 14 games to clinch the crown by a point. Midway through that run, their elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur did not stop them from beating the same opponents domestically only a few days later.

City have to win this weekend (Getty)

That same tendency has not been displayed in the opening months of this season. City have suffered setbacks, momentarily recovered, then quickly dropped points or fallen to another defeat again. Two league victories separated the draw with Tottenham, the defeat to Norwich and the defeat to Wolves. Three wins separated the Wolves defeat with the reverse at Anfield before the international break. Consistency is an issue.

“I think today we show, in the most difficult stadium right now in the world, the reason why we are champions,” Guardiola said at Anfield, to open his post-match press conference. He was right. Despite the 3-1 scoreline, it was a delicately-balanced, evenly-contested game that on a different day, his side may well have won. Instead, they are nine points back with a string of stern tests just around the corner. Over the next six weeks, they have to show the reason why they are champions again or risk surrendering their crown.

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