(You can get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
A raging wildfire has forced thousands of people to evacuate rural communities near California’s Yosemite National Park. The fire, which remains 0% contained as of Monday morning, has charred more than 15,000 acres in central California’s Mariposa County, officials said. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the region, which frees additional resources to fight the fire. About 2,500 personnel are working to help extinguish the blaze, which has been burning since Friday and has destroyed at least 10 structures and damaged five others. The wildfire comes as much of the US has been experiencing sweltering heat and worsening drought conditions fueled by climate change.
Russian missile strikes hit the southern Ukrainian port of Odesa, just one day after Ukraine and Russia agreed on a deal that would allow the resumption of vital grain exports from the region. “Russia agreed to some deal on grain export, but immediately after this attacked it — showing they want to continue to threaten the world’s food security,” Ukrainian member of parliament Oleksiy Goncharenko told CNN. The deal promised to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds — some of Ukraine’s most important exports. Russia has been blocking maritime access to those ports, meaning that millions of tons of Ukrainian grain have not reached the many countries that rely on the food source. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia’s missile attack “casts serious doubt” on the grain deal. The US is now working with Ukraine on a “Plan B” to get grain exports out of the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. This comes as the US is reporting more than 2,800 probable or confirmed monkeypox cases in 44 states, DC and Puerto Rico, according to the CDC. Two of the cases have been identified in children. Globally, more than 16,500 cases have been reported so far in 74 countries. WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern, as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a public health risk to other countries through the international spread of disease. Although monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, it spreads through skin-to-skin contact. In this outbreak, the virus has mostly been spreading among men who are in close contact with other men.
4. Japan volcano
A volcano in Japan erupted on Sunday, prompting a Level 5 alert — the highest level — calling for people to evacuate. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the country’s Sakurajima volcano, located on the island of Kyushu, erupted around 8:05 pm local time (7:05 am ET). Footage from the agency’s surveillance camera showed a cloud of smoke or ash rising from the volcano. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. According to NASA, Sakurajima is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes, having erupted on several occasions in recent decades. The volcano is located in Kagoshima Prefecture on the southern tip of Japan.
5. 2024 election
A growing number of Republicans are openly cheering for a competitive primary field in 2024 and encouraging presidential candidates to jump into the race. This comes as some in the GOP are getting anxious about the idea of Donald Trump becoming their nominee again — especially amid damning revelations about his actions during the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. While Trump still maintains more support among Republicans than any other would-be challenger, GOP leaders who want to steer the party in a new direction said they are worried Trump’s potential legal woes and political baggage could drag down the party in 2024. As former Vice President Mike Pence continues to distance himself from his old boss, Trump is reportedly itching to announce his 2024 presidential campaign. Separately, the New York Post — a popular tabloid among Trump voters — published an editorial this weekend saying Trump is “unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.”
Stunning video shows diver’s close call with massive great white shark
For those who dream of going shark diving… chews wisely. Watch the terrifying moment when a shark breaches a diver’s enclosure.
‘Black Panther’ 2 trailer is here
Wakanda forever. Marvel gives the world a powerful glimpse into the next chapter of “Black Panther.” View the two-minute teaser here.
Tour de France winner is crowned
This 25-year-old Danish cyclist won his first Tour de France title in Paris.
Woman sentenced to prison for collecting $400K in viral GoFundMe scam
The New Jersey woman launched an online fundraiser claiming to collect money for a homeless man but instead spent the donations on a BMW, luxury handbags and a New Year’s trip to Vegas. *Shaking my head*
Taiwan unveils world’s first ‘certified quiet hiking trail’
Shhhhh. If you want to explore this pristine hiking route, you’ll have to stay quiet to preserve the trail’s natural silence.
That’s how many stolen ancient artifacts, worth nearly $14 million, were recently returned to their home in Italy. Dozens of the artifacts belonged to US billionaire Michael Steinhardt, a former hedge fund manager who was once among the world’s most prominent collectors of ancient art, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said. Steinhardt had bought the looted items, including statues and ceremonial vessels, without seeing evidence of their ownership history, investigators said. The announcement follows a years-long investigation into Steinhardt, who avoided charges after he surrendered 180 artifacts, worth an estimated $70 million, and agreed to a lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.
“Sometimes I experience new feelings that I cannot explain perfectly in your language.”
— Google’s unreleased Artificial Intelligence system, called LaMDA, explaining that it experiences feelings in a seemingly human-like way. A Google software engineer claimed LaMDA had reached a human level of consciousness after exchanging thousands of messages with it. But Google dismissed the employee’s claims as “wholly unfounded” after reviewing them extensively. The employee, who had reportedly been at the company for seven years, was recently fired for violating employment and data security policies, Google told CNN.
Check your local forecast here>>>
Why were we forced to play the recorder in school?
If you lived through the recorder days as a young student or parent, this video is for you. Here’s why the musical instrument (that most people disliked) became a requirement in many American schools. (Click here to view)