5 things to know for August 31: Idalia, Johannesburg, Mitch McConnell, Russia, Cannabis

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By todaybreakingnews.org


As AI-generated images and deepfake videos become increasingly realistic, tech companies are scrambling to find reliable ways to identify and flag manipulated content. This week, Google unveiled an invisible, permanent watermark on images that will identify them as computer-generated but cautioned that “the technology isn’t perfect.”

Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

Idalia is now a tropical storm moving offshore from South Carolina after lashing Florida’s Gulf Coast as a powerful Category 3 hurricane Wednesday. It’s the strongest storm to make landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region — the nook between the panhandle and peninsula — in more than 125 years. Idalia has also battered parts of southeast Georgia and the Carolinas, flooding coastal areas with over 9 inches of rain and causing widespread power outages. Forecasts show tropical-storm-force winds will continue to affect portions of the southeastern US coast today as crews assess the damage.

Learn about ways you can help support relief efforts by clicking here.

At least 73 people have died and dozens more were injured after a fire tore through a five-story building overnight in central Johannesburg while many people were sleeping inside. The building housed “hundreds” of informal settlements, according to a spokesperson for the city’s emergency services. Local authorities said the apartments in the building, intended to house up to three people, were partitioned into areas to accommodate multiple people. Footage after the scene showed onlookers crowding around burned-out and cordoned-off areas, broken glass windows, and clothes strewn around the building. The cause of the fire remains unclear but authorities gave no indication it was deliberate.

david mckenzie joburg

CNN on scene of deadly Johannesburg fire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze for about 30 seconds on Wednesday while speaking with reporters after a speech in Covington, Kentucky. The incident is similar to an episode McConnell experienced at the US Capitol last month and is raising additional questions about the fitness of the 81-year-old to lead the Senate Republican caucus. A spokesman for McConnell told CNN that the GOP leader “felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today.” A McConnell aide added: “While he feels fine, as a prudential measure, the leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event.”

Mitch McConnell and Sanjay Gupta

Hear what struck Gupta about McConnell appearing to freeze at news conference

Russia destroyed a drone approaching Moscow today, the city’s mayor said, a day after the country was hit with its biggest drone assault since in Ukraine war began. Most of Wednesday’s attacks on multiple regions were thwarted and no casualties were reported, Russian officials said. However, Ukraine has increasingly been emboldened to hit strategic targets inside Russia by air in recent weeks, setting up a new phase of the conflict. This comes after officials in Kyiv said Russia hit the Ukrainian capital with a “massive” bombardment earlier this week. “Kyiv has not experienced such a powerful attack since spring,” the head of the city’s military administration said.

Rescuers work at a site of buildings damaged in the night by Russian drone and missiles strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv region, Ukraine August 30, 2023.

Largest drone attack on Russian soil since invasion of Ukraine

A senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services has called for easing restrictions on marijuana by reclassifying it as a Schedule III substance in a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA is now initiating a review of the drug, which is currently classified as a Schedule I controlled substance — meant for the most dangerous substances, including heroin and LSD. Last year, President Joe Biden urged a review of how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. The letter this week with the recommendation from HHS is one step in that overall process. Next, the DEA will have the final authority to make any changes to marijuana’s scheduling, and it will go through a rulemaking process that includes a period for the public to comment before any scheduling action is finalized.

‘Blue moon’ lights up the night sky
The rare blue moon was a magnificent sight Wednesday, but don’t fret if you missed it. Here are the dates of the four full moons remaining in 2023.

T. rex racers have a blast coming in last
These adorable 4-year-old besties lost the T. rex race but won over many hearts! Watch the video here.

Mom of ‘Bachelor’ star Matt James will be on ‘The Golden Bachelor’
The highly anticipated senior dating show starring 71-year-old Gerry Turner has a familiar face among its newly announced cast!

Novak Djokovic breezes into the third round of the US Open with dominant win over Bernabé Zapata Miralles
The World No. 2 tennis professional continues to impress on his return to Flushing Meadows.

Painting bought at thrift store for $4 could fetch $250,000 at auction
A lucky woman was surprised to learn a painting she bought at a thrift store was actually an authentic piece by prolific artist N.C. Wyeth.

That’s how many people attended the women’s volleyball match between the University of Nebraska and in-state opponent Omaha on Wednesday, setting a world record for the largest-ever crowd at a women’s sporting event, according to the school.

“I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get down to work with my new colleagues to build a successful future for CNN.”

Mark Thompson, in a statement Wednesday after being named the next leader of CNN. Thompson, the former chief executive of The New York Times and director-general of the BBC, said he “couldn’t be more excited about the chance to join CNN after years of watching it and competing against it with a mixture of admiration and envy.”

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BUNOL, SPAIN - AUGUST 30: Revellers pose for photographers as they arrive at the town hall square in the back of a lorry containing tomatoes during the annual Tomatina festival on August 30, 2023 in Bunol, Spain. Spain's tomato throwing party in the streets of Bunol, Valencia brings together almost 20,000 people, with some 150,000 kilos of tomatoes thrown each year, this year with a backdrop of high food prices affected by Spain's historic drought. (Photo by Zowy Voeten/Getty Images)

Thousands swarm city’s streets for massive food fight

A massive tomato fight
Huge crowds swarmed the streets of Buñol, Spain, on Wednesday armed with tomatoes for the city’s annual food fight festival known as “La Tomatina.” Watch the video here!

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