June 30, 2015

This summer, starting on its Los Angeles to San Francisco route, United Airlines will fly commercial jets using a biofuel made out of plant oil and animal fat. In 2013, United agreed to buy 15 million gallons of the fuel, produced in California by AltAir Fuels, over three years, with the option to buy more. AltAir uses discarded farm waste like tallow (rendered animal fat) plus non-edible natural oils to make biofuel that works in existing jet engines.

The AltAir fuel will be blended with traditional jet fuel, starting with a 30/70 mix. But United isn't placing all its bets on AltAir. On Tuesday, The New York Times says, United will announce a $30 million investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy — a small amount compared with the $11.6 billion United spent on fuel last year, but the largest such investment by a U.S. carrier to date. Fulcrum turns municipal garbage into aviation fuel, promising cheap green fuel from a plentiful source of raw material.

Airlines are trying to reduce their carbon emissions but alternative, sustainable sources of jet fuel aren't yet available in dependable quantities. The industry hopes to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to half their 2005 levels by 2050. Peter Weber

10:53 p.m.

With Hurricane Zeta expected to hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, three counties in this conservative region will shorten their early voting hours, a move that could hurt the GOP.

Escambia, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa counties are all Republican strongholds, Politico reports, and are expected to easily go for President Trump. But Florida is a swing state, and Republicans have been counting on getting voters to cast their ballots early in person, as more Democrats are returning their ballots by mail.

In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, early voting hours are normally from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but because of Zeta, the voting sites will close at 3 p.m. on Wednesday before reopening at 11 a.m. on Thursday, assuming there is no extensive damage caused by the storm. In Okaloosa County, early voting sites will close two hours early on Wednesday and open two hours later than normal on Thursday.

"It's an abundance of caution for us," Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux told Politico. "Hurricane Sally just in September weakened a bunch of trees and power lines, so we need to be careful, but I do think we will get back up and running quickly." Following Hurricane Michael in 2018, which hit the Panhandle a month before Election Day, then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) extended early voting hours. Catherine Garcia

9:54 p.m.

First lady Melania Trump had nothing but praise for her husband on Tuesday, telling a crowd in Atglen, Pennsylvania, that President Trump is "tough, successful, and fair" and "sees potential in everyone he meets, no matter their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation."

Trump, she continued, is "a man who has a very big heart and a great sense of humor. Donald loves helping people, and he loves seeing those around him, and his country, succeed."

This was the first lady's first solo campaign event for 2020, and she was joined by former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. The event was held in a converted barn usually used for wedding receptions, USA Today reports, with several hundred people in attendance. There was little social distancing, but most people did have on masks.

Trump applauded the president for working "hard to keep people informed and calm" and said his impeachment was "a sham." She also accused Democrats and the media of working together to "all but destroy our traditional values," and claimed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will push a "socialist agenda." Catherine Garcia

8:40 p.m.

President Trump went after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) multiple times during a rally in Lansing on Tuesday, and the crowd responded by chanting, "Lock her up!"

Earlier this month, the FBI announced it had foiled a plot by several men to kidnap Whitmer, with the extremists allegedly wanting to try her for "treason." Trump told the crowd in Lansing that he doesn't think Whitmer "likes me too much," adding, "I'm the one, it was our people that helped her out with her problem."

He went on to suggest that the kidnapping threat wasn't that big of a deal, saying, "I mean, we'll have to see if it's a problem. Right? People are entitled to say maybe it was a problem, maybe it wasn't. It was our people — my people — our people that helped her out. And then she blamed me for it. She blamed me and it was our people that helped her. I don't get it. How did you put her there?"

Trump and Whitmer have been highly critical of each other amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the governor wrote in a piece for The Atlantic published on Tuesday that "every time the president ramps up this violent rhetoric, every time he fires up Twitter to launch another broadside against me, my family and I see a surge of vicious attacks sent our way. This is no coincidence, and the president knows it. He is sowing division and putting leaders, especially women leaders, at risk. And all because he thinks it will help his re-election." Catherine Garcia

7:19 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday said that while "anger and suspicion is growing and our wounds are getting deeper," he will bring Americans together and "restore our soul and save this country."

With one week to go until the election, Biden traveled to Warm Springs, Georgia, to make his pitch to supporters at a drive-up rally. He is trying to flip Georgia blue, and hopes the state will back a Democrat for the first time since 1992.

Former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought treatment for his paralysis in Warm Springs, and Biden said the town is "a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed. That as a people and a country, we can overcome a devastating virus. That we can heal a suffering world. That yes, we can restore our soul and save our country."

Biden lost his optimistic tone when talking about President Trump, and slammed him for claiming the nation is turning a corner on the coronavirus, despite a record number of cases. "The tragic truth of our time is that COVID has left a deep and lasting wound in this country," Biden said. Trump, he continued, has "shrugged. He's swaggered. And he's surrendered.' Catherine Garcia

5:39 p.m.

A research team made a worrisome discovery off the Siberian coast, The Guardian reports. The scientists say they believe they are first to uncover observational evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean have started to be released after determining that methane levels at the ocean's surface were four to eight times higher than expected.

The deposits are considered "sleeping giants of the carbon cycle" and could theoretically expedite climate change, given that methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period, The Guardian notes. But while the discovery sounds alarming, it's also been met with skepticism from some climate scientists.

Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, argued there is no evidence Arctic methane had a "big effect" even in earlier periods when the region was warmer than it is now.

The scientists who made the discovery, meanwhile, have acknowledged their work is preliminary, and said the scale of methane releases will not be confirmed until they return and analyze the data. Either way, "there is unlikely to be any major" climate effect "at this moment," Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson, told The Guardian from the research vessel. But he did maintain his stance that "the process has now been triggered." Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

5:25 p.m.

Keith Raniere was sentenced Tuesday to 120 years in prison after being convicted of running a sex trafficking cult called NXIVM.

Raniere founded and ran NXIVM, which he branded as a self-improvement business. But prosecutors say it was a front for Raniere to traffic women and girls and mentally, physically, and sexually abuse them. Raniere's victims gave harrowing victim statements during his trial, detailing how they were blackmailed and otherwise prevented from leaving the cult, some for more than a decade.

Raniere was convicted a year ago on charges of federal sex trafficking and child pornography. He acknowledged wrongdoing within NXIVM, but maintained his innocence even in recent interviews ahead of his sentencing. Other NXIVM members have pleaded guilty to charges related to the cult. NXIVM gained notoriety as the subject of the HBO docuseries The Vow. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:02 p.m.

Guess who's back?

Apple TV+ on Tuesday announced it has signed a deal with comedian Jon Stewart for multiple seasons of a new current affairs show. This will be Stewart's return to television over five years after his departure from The Daily Show, the streamer noted in a statement. Apple TV+ also said Stewart has signed a first-look deal with the company for "projects to be produced and developed for the service."

Stewart's new show was described as a "one-hour, single-issue series" that will "explore topics that are currently part of the national conversation and his advocacy work," and each season will be accompanied by a companion podcast. Since he left The Daily Show, Stewart has been particularly vocal in advocating for 9/11 first responders. Trevor Noah took over as host of The Daily Show in 2015.

Though this new show will mark Stewart's television return, the comedian earlier this year directed the political comedy Irresistible starring Steve Carell. Speaking in an interview with The New York Times in June about whether he wishes he still had his own show, Stewart said, "Sometimes I do. But not the one that I had. The one that I had is in wonderful hands and continues to elevate in a way that I couldn't have. My efficacy for that kind of conversation has passed." Brendan Morrow

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