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1. Hurricane Michael
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Political Figures - US
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Middle East and North Africa
Political Figures - Intl
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Southeastern United States
Hurricane Michael intensified into a true monster overnight: a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. Michael's barreling through the Gulf of Mexico for an expected landfall along the Florida Panhandle this afternoon. Now here's the truly scary part -- it's expected to grow stronger before it hits land. If it does hit Florida as a Category 4 storm, it'll be the strongest hurricane to strike the Panhandle in history as well as the strongest in terms of wind speed to make landfall in the United States this year.
This morning Michael is about 140 miles southwest of Panama City, Florida. Nearly 4 million people are under hurricane warnings in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend regions. Up to 12 inches of rain is expected in the area, with life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet. You can track the storm here, and if you need it, here's a handy checklist of what to do when a hurricane's coming.
2. Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley's leaving Team Trump and everybody wants to know why. There are lots of theories floating around this true Washington political shocker. Haley, the UN ambassador, said she's served long enough and it's time to step aside. Those skeptical of that explanation push other ideas: that Haley's voice was being drowned out by the more hawkish sentiments of national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; that she wants to run for president (she says she won't in 2020); or that she straight up needs to make some money. Haley's latest financial disclosure showed she has a lot of debt, and moving to the private sector would be more lucrative.
3. Missing Saudi journalist
If Jamal Khashoggi is indeed dead, his killing was ordered "by the highest levels" of Saudi Arabia's government, The New York Times reported. Khashoggi -- missing since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last week -- was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate and dismembered with a bone saw, a Turkish official told the newspaper. The Washington Post said before Khashoggi's disappearance, US intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials talking about capturing him. Saudi Arabia has denied involvement in his disappearance. Khashoggi's fiancée asked President Donald Trump for help.
One of the men accused of trying to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro died under mysterious circumstances. Fernando Albán, a Maduro critic and Caracas City Council member, died after a fall from a 10th-floor window in Venezuela's top intelligence agency. Government officials call it suicide; government critics call it murder, part of a massive crackdown on opposition groups. Albán was one of several people arrested in the August 4 plot against Maduro, which included flying drones armed with explosives and setting them off while he gave a speech. Maduro was not injured in the attack.
5. Giant mosquitoes
Floodwaters drenched North Carolina after Hurricane Florence blew through, and all that standing water produced a new problem: mega-size mosquitoes. Entomologists said these big bloodsuckers, called gallinippers, have zebra-striped legs and are two to three times as big as normal mosquitoes. Thankfully a bite from a gallinipper generally won't make you sick. Scientists in North Carolina are keeping an eye on Hurricane Michael, which could bring tropical winds and rain again to the state Thursday, and in turn provide just the right conditions for the emergence of even more mosquitoes.
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AND FINALLY ...
Ellie Kemper tries to keep up with a professional chef in the kitchen, and hilarity, of course, ensues. (Click to view.)