French astronaut makes ‘crepe’ in space

ESA/TwitterESA/Twitter

(NEW YORK) — While it may not be a traditional crêpe, it’s as close to the real deal as a French astronaut can get in space.

Thomas Pesquet, the first French commander of the International Space Station, shared a video on Twitter of his spin on the sweet treat.

“Unfortunately for my teammates, my culinary skills do not match my nationality. At least Shane and Oleg with whom I have already lived were warned this time. Creation so French today: chocolate crepe, strawberries, (how’s that a tortilla?),” the translated tweet said.

The 43-year-old first shared the video Monday and as the floating disc of dough made its rounds on social media, comments varied with some hailing the snack as hilarious and original, to others calling it dismal and disappointing.

Although the recipe may not be Le Cordon Bleu-worthy, Pesquet gets serious points for creativity and credit for the first known crepe served in space.

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Biden backs removing sexual assault, harassment cases from military chain of command

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden has announced his support for the recommendation that prosecution of sexual assaults and sexual harassment cases be removed from the military chain of command in favor of independent prosecutors to handle those cases.

Recommended by an independent civilian panel that looked at sexual assault in the military, the change has been long been supported by advocates for sexual assault victims who say it will improve the handling of sexual assault allegations.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had already announced that he backed the same recommendation made by the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault on the Military when the group presented him with recommendations.

“I strongly support Secretary Austin’s announcement that he is accepting the core recommendations put forward by the Independent Review Commission on Military Sexual Assault (IRC), including removing the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault from the chain of command and creating highly specialized units to handle these cases and related crimes,” Biden said in a statement released Friday.

“Sexual assault is an abuse of power and an affront to our shared humanity,” he added. “And sexual assault in the military is doubly damaging because it also shreds the unity and cohesion that is essential to the functioning of the U.S. military and to our national defense.”

“Today’s announcement is the beginning, not the end of our work,” Biden said. “This will be among the most significant reforms to our military undertaken in recent history, and I’m committed to delivering results.”

Biden said he looked forward to working with Congress “to implement these necessary reforms and promote a work environment that is free from sexual assault and harassment for every one of our brave service members.”

The change to remove the military chain of command from prosecutions has been the centerpiece of legislation championed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., for the last decade.

Recently, Gillibrand has received bipartisan support for a bill that has been previously voted down and not backed by the Pentagon.

But Gillibrand’s bill has not received the support of key lawmakers on the Armed Services Committees who are opposed to the removal of the chain of command from all felony cases, not just sexual assault prosecutions.

While Biden expressed support for the change in military sexual assault prosecutions, ahead of Friday’s announcement two senior administration officials seemed to indicate that Biden does not support broader changes in Gillibrand’s bill.

The officials said the independent panel recommends that the changes be enacted by Congress this year but that they not go into effect until 2023 to help build the infrastructure needed to bring special victims prosecutors on board.

“We reject the notion that shifting legal decisions about prosecution from command to prosecutors diminishes the role of those commanders,” said one of the officials.

“We believe, instead, that it enhances their role and places them in the lead of taking care of their people — the number one job of commanders — and creating climates of no tolerance for sexual assault, sexual harassment, and related crimes” the official added.

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Air travel exceeds pre-pandemic levels for first time heading into July Fourth weekend

Mina Kaji andAmanda Maile, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Thursday marked a major pandemic milestone — air travel exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time as people took to the skies for the July 4th holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported it screened 2,147,090 nationwide Thursday, surpassing the checkpoint volume for the same day in 2019 by 58,330.

It’s a remarkable recovery from the height of the pandemic when fewer than 100,000 people were flying in the U.S. each day.

Experts predict airlines will carry the most passengers since the start of the pandemic this weekend.

Domestic destinations like Las Vegas, Miami and Orlando are the most popular, according to the travel booking site Hopper. The Caribbean and Mexico are the most popular international destinations, according to Hopper economist Adit Damodarn.

“July 4th is the most searched weekend of summer 2021 thus far,” Damodarn said.

American Airlines is operating nearly 5,500 daily flights between Thursday and Monday, with the busiest travel days being Thursday and Friday, a spokesperson said.

United Airlines expects to fly 2 million customers from Thursday to Tuesday, with Thursday and Monday anticipated to be its busiest days. Delta Air Lines said approximately 2.2 million customers are expected to fly with the airline between Friday and Tuesday.

The busiest airports will be Chicago O’Hare, LAX, and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, according to Hopper. The busiest day to depart is Friday and the busiest day to return will be Monday.

“Travel is back,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told ABC News.

“July 1 is going to be the busiest day since COVID started, but it’ll only have that record for four days because July 5 is going to break it. It’s just another indication of how we really are on the road to recovery,” Kirby said.

TSA warned of staffing shortages at more than 100 airports last month and continues to ask for volunteers to help meet demand.

“Because of the fact that you know there are shortage and staffing, you know they’re going to be long lines, just be patient,” Everett Kelley, president of AFGE, the union that represents Transportation Security Officers, told ABC.

TSA has said it hopes to hire 6,000 new officers to handle the summer travel boost.

It has resorted to offering recruitment incentives such as $1,000 to officers who accept employment with the agency.

They say they are prepared to handle the increased traveler volume this weekend.

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How Sting helped inspire ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’

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Sting’s songs have appeared on so many movie soundtracks that he’s released several compilations of them.  But it turns out one particular song by Sting ended up inspiring one of the biggest movies of all time: Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which marks its 30th anniversary on Saturday.

T2, released in 1991, features future human resistance leader John Connor as a teen, played by Edward Furlong, teaming up with Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Model T-800 Terminator, who’s no longer the bad guy but has been sent back in time to save John from a more advanced T-1000 model.  That machine has been sent to kill Connor before he becomes the leader he’s destined to be, and who will avert a nuclear holocaust in 1997 — aka Judgment Day.

So what the heck does this have to do with Sting?  In a new article on The Ringer about the making of the film, director James Cameron reveals that he got the idea for a major plot point while tripping and listening to a Sting song.

“I remember sitting there once, high on [Ecstasy], writing notes for Terminator, and I was struck by Sting’s song, that ‘I hope the Russians love their children too,’” Cameron says, referring to Sting’s 1985 single, Russians. “And I thought, ‘You know what? The idea of a nuclear war is just so antithetical to life itself.’ That’s where the kid came from.”

“Russians,” from Sting’s first solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles, was about the rising tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the ’80s, and the growing threat of nuclear war.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was a massive critical and commercial success, grossing $520 million worldwide and winning several Oscars.

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“Hasta la vista, baby”: ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ turns 30 on Saturday

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On July 3, 1991, James Cameron‘s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the sequel to his low-budget 1984 sci-fi classic The Terminator, blasted into theaters.

The original had a human resistance fighter traveling back in time to save a young woman named Sarah Connor from an unstoppable killing machine from the future, so that she one day could give birth to a son who would turn the tide in a future war against the machines. 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day reunited Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, with Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s T-800 cyborg — but this time he was sent back to protect her 10-year-old son, John, played by Edward Furlong, after the Skynet artificial intelligence that controls the machines sends back an advanced terminator model, a shape-shifting liquid metal prototype known as the T-1000, played by Robert Patrick, to kill John. But first, the T-800 and John have to break Sarah Conner out of a psychiatric facility.

Then most expensive film ever made and boasting then-bleeding edge visual effects, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was a smash hit, and remains one of few sequels to surpass the original in the eyes of many fans. It grossed more than $520 million worldwide and earned Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Makeup for late legend Stan Winston, and Best Visual Effects for the team at George Lucas‘ Industrial Light and Magic, which used nascent computer technology to bring the liquid metal killing machine to life.

There have been four Terminator films since Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the most recent being 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate.  But none have reached T2‘s critical and box office heights.

 

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New Music Friday: IDK, Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Toosii and G Herbo

Courtesy of Warner Records

The month of July is off to a smooth start with unexpected music releases from IDK and Young Thug,Lil Yatchy and more. Here’s a roundup of new tracks to enjoy over the holiday weekend. 

After dropping “Peloton” last month, Maryland rapper IDK returns with his new single, “Pradada Bang,” featuring Young Thug.

Thugger opens the track boasting about his money, expensive jewelry, and making “half a mil for a show.” Meanwhile, IDK’s brash bars are directly aimed at clout-chasing women who only want him for his money.

“How you want Birkins and [ish] when you ain’t even got a house / We get in one argument you gon’ live in that purse when I’m kicking you out,” he raps.

“Prada Bang” will be featured on IDK’s upcoming album, USEE4YOURSELF, arriving July 9th.

Rapper Lil Yachty takes a different direction with his alternative-hip hop single, “Love Music.” The melodic track finds the Quality Control artist reminiscing about all the “good things” he hears about a woman he loves.

Meanwhile, Toosii takes a more cold-hearted approach to women on his new single, “heart cold.”

“It’s safe to say the world getting ugly / And I could say that my heart cold, my heart cold, yeah / But that’s ’cause you put someone else above me,” Toosii raps.

And finally, G Herbo has unleashed his new album, 25, featuring appearances from Polo G, Lil Tjay,Gunna, Rowdy Rebel, 21 Savage and more. The Chicago rapper also released a music video for the song “I Don’t Wanna Die,” in which he rides the top of a school bus through his city while delivering a raw take on the violence and pain that comes with being on the streets.  

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Surfside building collapse latest: Death toll rises to 20 after body of firefighter’s child found

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — At least 20 people, including three children, have been confirmed dead and 128 others remain unaccounted for since a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County last week.

The partial collapse occurred around 1:15 a.m. on June 24 at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach. Approximately 55 of the oceanfront complex’s 136 units were destroyed, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah. Since then, hundreds of first responders have been carefully combing through the debris in hopes of finding survivors.

Two more bodies were pulled from the rubble on Thursday night, including that of a 7-year-old girl who was the daughter of a Miami firefighter, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. The firefighter was not part of the crew that discovered the girl’s body but he was notified, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky.

“It goes without saying that every night since this last Wednesday has been immensely difficult,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Friday morning. “But last night was uniquely different. It was truly different and more difficult for our first responders.”

Meanwhile, 188 people who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster have been accounted for and are safe, according to Levine Cava, who has stressed that the figures are “very fluid” and “continue to change.” The number of those accounted for has gone up as detectives continue to audit the list of people reported missing, a development that Levine Cava called “very good news.”

However, no survivors have been discovered in the rubble of the building since the morning it partially collapsed, and the hope that more people would be found alive appeared to be fading Friday.

Cominsky said rescue workers are “emotional” after the discovery of a first responder’s own daughter, which “takes a toll.” But he said that won’t stop them from continuing to search for those who are still missing.

“I just was hoping that we would have some survivors,” Cominsky said at the press briefing on Friday morning.

City of Miami Department of Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban later confirmed in a statement that a member of the team lost his 7-year-old daughter in the disaster.

The massive search and rescue operation, now in its ninth day, was temporarily halted for much of Thursday due to safety concerns regarding the structural integrity of the still-standing section of the building. Movement in the pile of rubble as well as in the remaining structure prompted the hourslong pause, according to Scott Nacheman, a structure specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Urban Search and Rescue support team.

Structural engineers, who have been on site monitoring the situation, are currently planning for the likely demolition of the rest of the condominium amid the ongoing search and rescue mission, according to Levine Cava. Nacheman, who is helping develop those contingency plans, told reporters it would be “weeks” before a “definitive timeline” is available.

The structure was cleared by crews last week, and all search and rescue resources have since been shifted to focusing on the pile of rubble. But the two sites are side-by-side and the remaining building has posed challenges for the rescuers trying to locate any survivors or human remains in the wreckage.

“Given our ongoing safety concerns about the integrity of the building, we’re continuing to restrict access to the collapse zone,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Thursday evening.

Shortly after search and rescue efforts resumed Thursday evening, the Miami-Dade County mayor noted that the crews “looked really, really excited to get back out there.”

Levine Cava told reporters on Friday morning that structural engineers are working to expand the search area as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so.

“Here we are, day nine,” she said. “Our first responders have been hard at work, as they have been this entire time, continuing to search through the pile that is accessible to them.”

Heat, humidity, heavy rain, strong winds and lightning storms have also made the conditions difficult for rescuers, periodically forcing them to pause their round-the-clock efforts in recent days. Officials are monitoring weather systems in the region as the Atlantic hurricane season ramps up.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his office is beginning to prepare a potential state of emergency declaration due to Hurricane Elsa, the first of the Atlantic season, which could possibly hit Surfside. The storm’s track is not yet clear, but DeSantis said tropical force winds could arrive in South Florida as early as Sunday night. So officials are making the necessary preparations to ensure that both the search area and the remaining structure in Surfside is protected.

“This is just what we do but we are adding the special emphasis on this site because we understand the sensitivities involved,” DeSantis said during the press briefing on Friday morning.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Surfside on Thursday to meet with officials, first responders, search and rescue teams, as well as families of the victims. Recalling the 1972 car accident that killed his first wife and 1-year-old daughter as well as badly injuring his two sons, the president told reporters: “It’s bad enough to lose somebody but the hard part, the really hard part, is to not know whether they’ll survive or not.”

The cause of the partial collapse to a building that has withstood decades of hurricanes remains unknown and is under investigation.

Built in the 1980s, the Champlain Towers South was up for its 40-year recertification and had been undergoing roof work — with more renovations planned — when it partially collapsed, according to officials.

A structural field survey report from October 2018, which was among hundreds of pages of public documents released by the town of Surfside late Sunday, said the waterproofing below the condominium’s pool deck and entrance drive was failing and causing “major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.”

A slew of lawsuits against the Champlain Towers South Condo Association have already been filed on behalf of survivors and victims, alleging the partial collapse could have been avoided and that the association knew or should have known about the structural damage. A spokesperson for the association told ABC News they cannot comment on pending litigation but that their “focus remains on caring for our friends and neighbors during this difficult time.”

The association’s board released a statement Friday saying its surviving members “have concluded that, in the best interest of all concerned parties, an independent Receiver should be appointed to oversee the legal and claims process.”

“We know that answers will take time as part of a comprehensive investigation,” the statement continued, “and we will continue to work with city, state, local, and federal officials in their rescue efforts, and to understand the causes of this tragedy.”

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Iggy Azalea drops confident “I Am the Strip Club” single

Bad Dreams Records / EMPIRE

Iggy Azalea proclaims “I Am the Strip Club” in her new single. 

Iggy dropped the track and corresponding video on Friday that features her and a team of dancers turning the back of a semi truck into a makeshift strip club.  The rig cruises down the highway at night as she dances and raps, “Don’t want your love/Don’t want your problems/Just need all of the dollars/I do the lap dance/I ride the pole up/I am the strip club.” 

Iggy also embeds Easter eggs for her loyal fans by bringing back the outfit from her “Work” video as she walks down the highway. Iggy wrote the treatment for the video and co-directed it with Thom Kerr

“I Am the Strip Club” is featured on the Australia native’s upcoming album, End of an Era. It follows her previous single, “Brazil,” and her Tyga collaboration, “Sip It.” 

Additionally, Iggy posted a statement on Thursday in support of Britney Spears, with whom she collaborated on “Pretty Girls” in 2015. The statement’s in response to Britney’s testimony last week in an LA court during which she detailed the alleged abuse she’s experienced while in a conservatorship under her father, Jamie Spears

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Parker McCollum announces his engagement to girlfriend Hallie Ray Light

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Parker McCollum is officially off the market! The “Pretty Heart” star announced on social media this week that he’s engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Hallie Ray Light.

“She said yes!” Parker simply wrote in the caption of his post, along with a snapshot of the happy couple. In the photo, Hallie’s holding up her hand to show off her brand-new diamond ring.

In her Instagram stories, Hallie also shared a few slides of the memorable night, including images of the newly-engaged couple celebrating with their friends and family members.

Parker’s new fiancée has often been a source of musical inspiration to him; his 2020 Hollywood Gold EP features a track titled “Hallie Ray Light.” 

Earlier this month, the singer announced his debut full-length album, Gold Chain Cowboy, which is coming out July 30. After that, he’ll hit the road with Dierks Bentley as one of the opening acts on the “Gone” star’s 2021 Beers on me Tour.

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Southwest Airlines canceled 2,600 flights in June; crews say they’re exhausted

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(NEW YORK) — As Americans flock back to air travel, airlines are scrambling to retrain crew and staff airport operations positions — the job hasn’t been easy with flight cancellations piling up.

Southwest canceled 2,687 flights in June according to flight tracking site Flightaware.com. In that same period, United canceled 189, Delta 106, and American canceled 2,423.

Southwest has blamed weather and a temporary IT outage in mid-June, but documents obtained by ABC News and conversations with flight crews detail more than just weather problems.

“Southwest is facing labor shortages, from the ramp to customer service agents to our flight attendants, pilots, and a lot of those are, they’re having trouble filling,” Southwest captain and president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, Casey Murray told ABC News.

American has explained its recent problems citing staffing shortages, telling customers to expect up to 80 cancellations a day through July 15.

Besides cancellations, Southwest also saw 34,250 delayed flights in June, significantly higher than United which saw just 8,440 delayed flights during the same period. Delta delayed 11,057 flights in June, while American Airlines delayed 20,418, according to FlightAware.

Southwest flight attendant and union president Lyn Montgomery has been flying for Southwest for 29 years, and says this is the worst she’s ever seen.

“It’s the lowest morale we’ve ever seen. We are normally a pretty happy workforce who work for Southwest Airlines and have always taken pride in that, but right now morale is at the lowest it’s ever been,” Montgomery told ABC News.

As Americans began to travel for Father’s Day weekend, more than 20% of Southwest flight attendants called in sick, according to internal documents obtained by ABC News. Many of those sick calls were due to fatigue, according to Montgomery.

The airline is now offering flight crews up to double pay to pick up open shifts through July 7, the airline acknowledged.

On Thursday, Southwest had scheduled 3,445 flights scheduled but canceled 212 of them.

In a statement to ABC News Southwest said: “Our People are expert problem solvers persevering with fewer options available to them right now as we deal with a combination of disruptive weather, very full flights, and a flight schedule built for nonstop, point-to-point travel. We’re aware of the frustration this disruption is having on our Employees and Customers. We apologize and we are dedicated to doing better.”

Captain Murray said as more pilots come out of training, cancellations should subside. Southwest does have new flight attendants in training as well, but airline training programs take weeks to months before new hires work their first shifts.

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