More water on the moon
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The moon’s shadowed, frigid nooks and crannies may hold frozen water in more places and in larger quantities than previously suspected. And for the first time, the presence of water on the moon’s sunlit surface has been confirmed, scientists reported Monday. That’s good news for astronauts at future lunar bases who could tap into these resources for drinking and making rocket fuel. While previous observations have indicated millions of tons of ice in the permanently shadowed craters of the moon’s poles, a pair of studies in the journal Nature Astronomy take the availability of lunar surface water to a new level. More than 15,400 square miles of lunar terrain have the capability to trap water in the form of ice, according to a team led by the University of Colorado’s Paul Hayne. That’s 20% more area than previous estimates, he said. The presence of water in sunlit surfaces had been previously suggested, but not confirmed. The molecules are so far apart that they are in neither liquid nor solid form, said lead researcher Casey Honniball, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. “To be clear, this is not puddles of water,” she stressed at a news conference. NASA’s astrophysics director Paul Hertz said it’s too soon to know whether this water — found in and around the southern hemisphere’s sunlit Clavius Crater — would be accessible. The surface could be harder there, ruining wheels and drills. These latest findings, nonetheless, expand the possible landing spots for robots and astronauts alike — “opening up real estate previously considered ‘off limits’ for being bone dry,” Hayne said. For now, NASA said it still aims to send astronauts to the lunar south pole, especially rich in frozen water. The White House deadline is 2024. As for the shadowed areas believed to be brimming with frozen water near the moon’s north and south poles, temperatures are so low that they could hold onto the water for millions or even billions of years. These so-called cold traps get down to minus 261 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bulldozer runs down Biden signs
HAINES CITY, Fla. — A 26-year-old man has been accused of stealing a bulldozer from a Florida construction site, driving it into a neighborhood and knocking down campaign signs for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, according to authorities and homeowners. The man took the bulldozer in Haines City on Saturday and repeatedly destroyed Biden signs in full view of people who live in the neighborhood, witnesses said. James Blight was charged with grand theft auto and trespassing. Former Vice Mayor Adam Burgess lives in the central Florida neighborhood, which he said is predominantly Black. He called it a hate crime. “This man came onto my property, took the two Joe Biden signs I had in my yard and then came back with a bulldozer to run down my fence,” Burgess told Bay News 9. Blight was also accused of bulldozing down a city speed limit sign, among other signs. Police said Blight claimed he was too drunk at the time to remember what happened.
Fox News anchors quarantine
NEW YORK — Several Fox News Channel on-air personalities were exposed last week to someone on a private plane who later tested positive for COVID-19, leading the network to take extra precautions this week. The network said in a memo to staff members on Monday that there had recently been “a few” positive coronavirus tests among its employees, leading to their quarantine. At least one person who tested positive was on a flight that ferried Fox personnel to New York from Nashville, Tennessee, the site of last week’s final presidential debate, according to The New York Times, which first reported the development. Fox cited privacy concerns in not identifying who had tested positive or was exposed. However, the network’s top news anchors, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, anchored Fox’s debate coverage from Nashville on Thursday, and commentators Dana Perino and Juan Williams were also on site.
Lilly antibody drug fails in study
U.S. government officials are putting an early end to a study testing an Eli Lilly antibody drug for people hospitalized with COVID-19 because it doesn’t seem to be helping them. Independent monitors had paused enrollment in the study two weeks ago because of a possible safety issue. But on Monday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsors the study, said a closer look found no safety problem but a low chance that the drug would prove helpful for hospitalized patients. It is a setback for one of the most promising treatment approaches for COVID-19. President Donald Trump received a similar experimental antibody drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. on an emergency basis when he was sickened with the coronavirus earlier this month. In a statement Lilly notes that the government is continuing a separate study testing the antibody drug in mild to moderately ill patients, to try to prevent hospitalization and severe illness. The company also is continuing its own studies testing the drug, which is being developed with the Canadian company AbCellera.
Utah paper to end print edition
SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Tribune announced Monday it will stop printing a daily newspaper at the end of the year after nearly 150 years and move to a weekly print edition. The change won’t result in cuts to the newsroom staff of about 65 people, though some would be “redeployed,” the newspaper reported. Reporters and editors will continue to file breaking news online as it happens. The new publication will be delivered by mail. Nearly 160 press operators, carriers and other employees will lose their jobs. The news comes after two recent ownership changes: The paper was purchased in 2016 by Paul Huntsman, son of the late billionaire industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr. and brother to former U.S-Russia Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. Last year, Paul Huntsman shepherded the Tribune into becoming a nonprofit in hopes of ensuring its long-term viability amid declining newspaper revenues nationwide. He cited continued declines and economic upheaval related to the coronavirus pandemic Monday as he announced the decision to newsroom staffers, calling it a painful but necessary concession.
Headstone shielded from stickers
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — People putting their “I Voted” stickers on women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony’s headstone will see something new this year: a plastic cover. Her headstone, in a cemetery in Rochester, New York, now has a shield to prevent further degradation to the marble from the stickers’ glue and the cleaners used to remove the stickers, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. Her sister Mary Anthony’s headstone, just next to hers, was also covered. The sticker trend became popular on Election Day 2016, said Patricia Corcoran, president of the nonprofit Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery, in an email. That day, as many as 12,000 people visited Mount Hope Cemetery, the sisters’ final resting place, to honor the work done by Anthony to win women’s suffrage and to memorialize the first time Americans could vote for a female major-party presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. A restoration effort in spring revealed the damage done to the marble marker by the stickers, Corcoran said. The nonprofit’s main mission is the cemetery’s preservation, “so above all we wanted to protect this iconic gravesite,” she said.
Virus deaths are rising again
BOISE, Idaho — Deaths per day from the coronavirus in the U.S. are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in practically every state, despite assurances from President Donald Trump over the weekend that “we’re rounding the turn, we’re doing great.” Average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Newly confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34. Health experts had warned that it was only a matter of time before deaths turned upward, given the record-breaking surge in cases engulfing the country. Deaths are a lagging indicator — that is, it generally takes a few weeks for people to sicken and die from the coronavirus.
7 held for hijack of oil tanker
LONDON — Seven stowaways seized when British naval special forces stormed an oil tanker in the English Channel have been arrested on suspicion of hijacking, police said Monday. Hampshire Police said the men, believed to be from Nigeria, were being held at several police stations on suspicion of “seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force.” They have not been charged. Police said the 22 crew members of the Nave Andromeda were “safe and well” after the raid, which unfolded after darkness fell on Sunday. Special Boat Service commandos were lowered by rope from helicopters onto the tanker, whose crew had locked themselves in a secure part of the ship known as the citadel. Within minutes, the stowaways were in custody. Police said officers were speaking to crew members to determine exactly what had happened. The ship had left Lagos, Nigeria, on Oct. 6 and had been due to dock in Southampton on Sunday morning. Navios Tanker Management, which operates the Liberian-registered vessel, said the ship’s master became “concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behavior of the stowaways.” A 10-hour standoff ensued as the tanker circled an area a few miles southeast of the Isle of Wight, south of Southampton. “I think this has got all the hallmarks of a situation where a number of stowaways are seeking political asylum, presumably in the U.K.,” said Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the U.K. Chamber of Shipping. “At some stage they got aggressive.” The coast guard scrambled helicopters to the scene, and authorities imposed a three-mile exclusion zone around the vessel. Suspecting a hijacking, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorized military action. The Special Boat Service is the elite maritime counter-terrorism unit of the Royal Navy, and the government never comments directly on its actions.
100K in SoCal to flee wildfire
LOS ANGELES — Fast-moving wildfires forced evacuation orders for more than 100,000 people and seriously injured two firefighters in Southern California on Monday as powerful winds across the state prompted power to be cut to hundreds of thousands to prevent utility equipment from sparking new blazes. A smoky fire exploded in size to over 11 square miles after breaking out around dawn in Orange County, south of Los Angeles. Gusts pushed flames along brushy ridges in Silverado Canyon and near houses in the sprawling city of Irvine, home to about 280,000 residents. There was no containment. Two firefighters, one 26 and the other 31 years old, were critically injured while battling the blaze, according to the county’s Fire Authority, which didn’t provide details on how the injuries occurred. They each suffered second- and third-degree burns over large portions of their bodies and were intubated at a hospital, officials said. Nearby, a much smaller fire in the Yorba Linda area prompted the evacuation of at least 10,000 people, officials said. At the Irvine-area fire, Kelsey Brewer and her three roommates decided to leave their townhouse before the evacuation order came in. The question was where to go in the pandemic. They decided on the home of her girlfriend’s mother, who has ample space and lives alone. “We literally talked about it this morning,” Brewer said, adding that she feels lucky to have a safe place to go. “We can only imagine how screwed everyone else feels. There’s nowhere you can go to feel safe.” Helicopters dropping water and fire retardant were grounded for much of the afternoon because strong winds made it unsafe to fly. However, a large air tanker and other aircraft began making drops again several hours before sunset.
Girls lead cops on 30-mile chase
ARGO, Ala Two young girls in a pickup truck led police on a chase of at least 30 miles through metro Birmingham. Police received a report about the unauthorized use of a vehicle. Bessemer police spotted the vehicle Sunday afternoon with an 11-year-old girl and another girl believed to be 11 or 12 inside. A chase that reached speeds of 80 mph went up Interstate 59 and ended when the truck wound up in a ditch. No one was injured.
Dunkin’ holding buyout talks
The Dunkin’ doughnuts and coffee chain has confirmed it’s held talks to be taken private by a private equity firm, sending its shares rocketing to an all-time high Monday. Dunkin’ Brands Group said it’s in preliminary discussions with Inspire Brands, which also owns Arby’s and Jimmy John’s Sandwiches. In a prepared statement Sunday, Dunkin’ said it is not yet certain a deal would be reached and would not comment further. Dunkin’ shares jumped $14.31, or 16.1% to close Monday at $103.10. Dunkin’, based in Canton, Massachusetts, also owns the Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain. There are 13,000 Dunkin’ stores and 8,000 Baskin-Robbins outlets worldwide. Both brands have significant history. Dunkin’ was founded in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts. Baskin-Robbins — known for its promise of 31 flavors — was founded in 1945 in Glendale, California. But the global pandemic has hurt sales. Dunkin’ Brands revenue fell 20% in the second quarter, and the company said franchisees closed 200 restaurants permanently. Dunkin’ Brands reported full-year sales of $1.4 billion in 2019, up 4% from the previous year. Atlanta’s Inspire Brands, which was founded in 2018, is quickly placed itself among the largest restaurant groups in the U.S. It also owns the Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic burger chains, and has annual sales of more than $14 billion.
Protests in Italy turn violent
MILAN — Protesters turned out by the hundreds in Turin, Milan and other Italian cities and towns Monday to vent their anger, sometimes violently, at the latest pandemic restrictions that force restaurants and cafes to close early and shutter cinemas, gyms and other leisure venues. In the northern city of Turin, some demonstrators broke off from a peaceful protest, smashing store windows on an elegant shopping street, setting smoke bombs and hurling bottles at police in a main city square where the Piedmont regional government is headquartered, RAI state TV said. A photographer was injured by a hurled bottle, RAI said. Police fired tear gas to clear the protesters in Piazza del Castello. In that same square, hours earlier, some 300 taxis peacefully lined up in neat rows to draw attention to their economic losses from the implosion of tourism and disappearance of workers from the city center as they do their jobs remotely during the pandemic. Triggering the violence in Turin were a group of “ultras,” as violent soccer fans are known, the LaPresse news agency said. It said five of the protesters were detained by authorities. In Italy’s business capital, Milan, police used tear gas to scatter protesters Monday night, and an Associated Press journalist saw at least two people detained. The protests began shortly after the national government’s order took effect requiring bars, cafes and restaurants to close their doors at 6 p.m. for the next 30 days as Italy tries to rein the resurgence of coronavirus infections in recent weeks. Since most Italians don’t dine out before 7:30 p.m. at the earliest, the decree effectively wiped out most of the restaurants’ already reduced revenue in the pandemic, although takeout and delivery can continue until midnight.
Muslims call for French boycott
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Muslims in the Middle East and beyond on Monday broadened their calls for boycotts of French products and protests, as a clash over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and the limits of free speech intensified. Kuwaiti stores pulled French yogurts and bottles of sparkling water from their shelves, Qatar University canceled a French culture week, and calls to stay away from the Carrefour grocery store chain were trending on social media in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Protests have been held in Iraq, Turkey and the Gaza Strip, and Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution condemning the publication of cartoons of the prophet. The beheading earlier this month of a French teacher who had shown caricatures of the prophet in class has once again ignited a debate over such depictions — which Muslims consider blasphemous. The growing confrontation is raising political tensions between France and some Muslim-majority nations, especially Turkey, and could put pressure on French companies. Other European countries have also entered the fray in support of France. French President Emmanuel Macron has vigorously defended such depictions as protected by the right to free speech. At a memorial for the teacher last week, Macron said: “We won’t renounce the caricatures.” On Sunday, he appeared to double down. In tweets published in both Arabic and English, he wrote: “We will not give in, ever.” He added, however, that France does not accept hate speech and respects all differences.
Detroit schools on their own
DETROIT — A commission on Monday released the 47,000-student Detroit Public Schools from more than a decade of state financial oversight, restoring full control of the district’s finances to the city’s elected school board. The last time the district was fully in charge was in 2009, before a series of state-appointed emergency managers were installed with a directive to fix a district neck-deep in red ink and whose students routinely scored at or near the bottom on standardized tests. The Detroit Financial Review Commission voted unanimously to grant waivers from oversight for the Detroit Public Schools Community District, which is in charge of educating students and other school operations, and Detroit Public Schools, which was tasked with paying off long-term debt.