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The Spill: The Surfside Condo Collapse

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Tragedy in Miami

The Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, FL, which is near Miami, collapsed. Nine have been confirmed dead and there are more than 150 people are still missing as the search continues. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has deployed the Army Corps of Engineers to investigate what happened and why. A popular condominium in Surfside, the tower was built in 1981 and was scheduled to be recertified.

According to one realtor with several units on the property, inspectors said the building was in “okay shape.” But concern was brought up in 2018 about the condo’s pool decking. Morabito Consultants, a structural engineering firm, released a report that waterproofing under the pool deck had failed. The decking had been incorrectly installed, allowing water to stand and not drain away. The engineering report warned this was “causing major structural damage” to the concrete slabs below.

This could have caused the collapse, but the cause isn’t certain yet. Right now, the focus is still on finding and rescuing anyone still missing.

“We are working 24-hours a day non-stop, nothing else on our mind, with the only objective of pulling their family members out of that rubble safely,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett. “That’s what we’re doing and we’re not going to stop doing that, not today, not tomorrow, not the next day. We’re going to keep going until everybody is out.”

The Vice President Visits the Border

Kamala Harris

Air Force Two carried the vice president from Washington, D.C. to El Paso, Texas, so that the she could visit and assess the situation at the border. Vice President Kamala Harris was joined by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and two members of Congress, who visited to see what is happening with the many migrants who are crossing the border illegally.

When the group landed in El Paso, they were greeted by political protesters. Undeterred, the vice president spoke briefly and then took questions from reporters. She explained that she was following the plan of getting to the “root causes” of the crisis and that visiting Guatemala and Mexico was step one in the long process of fixing the current situation.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that the vice president was shirking her duties by staying in El Paso and not visiting the two border towns Del Rio and McAllen, which don’t have a wall protecting them.

Congressman Henry Cuellar, representing a constituency at the southern border, is not happy with his president and the administration, saying: “The administration is making Democrats look weak. I’ve heard, from Democrats and Republicans in my area, ‘what the heck is going on with this administration?’”

Ms. Harris asked that “finger-pointing” stop and people work together for a solution.

Did We Find a New Species of Ancient Humans?

Who is Dragon Man? He’s not a Neanderthal or a Homo erectus. And according to scientists, who finally studied the skull up close and invasively, the ancient skeletal remains unearthed in the 1930s may belong to a human group that lived in East Asia at least 146,000 years ago.

Dragon Man was found in 1933 in Harbin, northeast China and sat undisturbed until just recently.  Professor Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum helped conduct the extensive study of the bones. Stringer reported: “What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species) but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct.”

Dragon Man is thought to have had square eye-sockets, thick brow ridges, a wide mouth, and oversized teeth. The cranium was larger than most homo sapiens and more likely had the brain the size of our current species. Scientists also believe Dragon Man was built much more sturdy and rugged.

One researcher believes the Dragon Man belongs to an ancient group of humans called the Denisovans. Others debate he is an offshoot of categorized Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. However, whatever they discover about the man, they all say he can revise the known story of human evolution.

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