5 things for September 20: Kavanaugh, Florence, Brexit, Detroit schools, strawberries

Posted at 4:19 AM, Sep 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-20 06:40:19-04

We’ve got your weekend plans nailed: Saturday is National Museum Day. Download a special ticket, and you can get into nearly 1,500 museums across the US — for free. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Brett Kavanaugh

As Monday’s tentative hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh creeps closer, pressure is mounting for everyone. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley wants Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, to decide by tomorrow morning whether she’ll speak to his committee about the claims. If not, Monday’s hearing would likely be canceled and Kavanaugh’s confirmation could move to a committee vote by midweek. GOP Sen. Susan Collins, a crucial swing vote, said it’s “not fair” for Ford not to testify. And one of CNN’s SCOTUS experts says the credibility of the Senate vetting process may be shot. Also, Kavanaugh now faces at least one more hard “no.” Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill said she’ll oppose his confirmation because of his stance on anonymous political contributions.

2. Hurricane Florence 

Two South Carolina mental health patients drowned in a prison transport van when floodwater from Hurricane Florence overtook the vehicle — but the two deputies transporting them managed to climb to safety. The tragic incident has sparked many questions, though few answers so far. The patients — both women — were “seat-belted” in the back of the van, police sources told CNN. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating. Meantime, President Trump, on a tour yesterday of the Carolinas, promised that the federal government will ensure the region bounces back. That includes farmers, who lost 3.4 million poultry birds, along with other livestock and crops in the floods. “Our entire American family is with you and ready to help,” Trump said. “You will recover.”

3. Brexit 

European Council President Donald Tusk issued a warning ahead of this week’s informal EU leaders’ summit in Austria: Time is running out for Brexit talks, and if things don’t get done, the whole ordeal is going to be very, very messy. The United Kingdom is due to break away from the EU in March, but logistics, like borders and future economic relationships between countries, are still in flux. European automakers are feeling the uncertainty, too. BMW said this week it would shut its Mini factory in England for a month of maintenance immediately after Brexit because it can’t be sure it will get the parts it needs if the UK leaves the European Union without a trade deal.

4. Detroit schools

At least 57 of more than 100 Detroit-area public schools have tested positive so far for high levels of copper, lead or both in drinking water. These metals are dangerous, especially for children, when consumed in certain quantities. In kids, they can lead to impaired cognition, hearing problems and delayed puberty. The school district turned off all drinking water in schools last month in “an abundance of caution,” but it still hasn’t found a good long-term fix. The city’s water department has said the schools’ aging plumbing systems are to blame, adding that the issues don’t extend to the rest of the city.

5. Strawberries 

Australia is dealing with a real-life urban legend after more than 100 reported cases of needles found embedded in strawberries. Yes, like sewing needles. The Australian government points out some of the cases could be “hoaxes or copycat events,” but that hasn’t stopped people from freaking out. Local retail giant Woolworths has temporarily pulled sewing needles from its stores and online, and the government announced tougher penalties for food tampering. However, this panic also bodes poorly for local agribusinesses. A new viral online movement, #SmashAStrawb, is encouraging people to eat (“smash”) strawberries, free of needle fears, to support local growers.


Someone misspelled the name of this airline — right there on the side of the plane

Hey, we all make mistakes. Giant 10-foot-tall, very obvious mistakes …

A ‘Downton Abbey’ movie is coming, yay!

But you have to wait an entire year for it, boo!

Jessica Simpson is expecting her third child 

She’s come a long way from those Chicken of the Sea” days.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo apparently detests unnecessary commas

Secretaries of State and CNN copy editors: Not so different after all. 

Flying insects could carry environment-damaging microplastics through the air

Which is a shame, because flying insects were sooo lovable before.


It’s been one year since Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, and for many, the slightest breeze can still strike fear. The kids of this “Maria generation” are suffering from PTSD. But residents — especially women — are working hard to rebuild and reinvent the island’s future.


“During climb, crew forgot to select bleed switch due to which cabin pressurization could not be maintained, and oxygen masks got deployed.”

An official with India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, explaining why about 30 people experienced nose and ear bleeds during a recent Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Jaipur. The flight was forced to turn back. No one was seriously injured.


LOOK, I made these! 

This ferret is dead-set on showing this guy her brand-new babies, even if she has to DRAG him along! (Click to view.)