October 28, 2016

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is one of the most vulnerable incumbents this election, and he probably didn't help his chances to retain his seat in his debate Thursday night with his Democratic challenger, Rep. Tammy Duckworth. Kirk had been pretty low-key in their first debate, but he was decidedly more feisty on Thursday night, accusing Duckworth of lying about a workplace discrimination lawsuit and calling her record of serving veterans "very questionable." His biggest hit, however, was also his loudest thud.

Duckworth had just explained why she wanted to serve in the Senate "when the drums of war sound," to explain the costs and risks of war. "My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution," she said. "I am a Daughter of the American Revolution. I've bled for this nation." That's not hyperbole — Duckworth served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Iraq, and she lost both her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade took down her chopper in 2004. "I had forgotten your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington," Kirk said, apparently referring to the fact that Duckworth's mother is Thai of Chinese descent; Duckworth was also born in Thailand.

Kirk's comment was met with an awkward silence, then a moderator told Duckworth, "You're welcome to take some time to respond to that, too," and Duckworth laughed: "There's been members of my family serving on my father's side since the American Revolution.... I'm proud of both my father's side and my mother, who's an immigrant."

Kirk, who served as an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve for 23 years until a serious stroke prompted his retirement in 2013, had been urged by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to "stay out of the media" as much as possible this election, the Chicago Tribune reports, and he has mostly made news so far for being the first Republican to unendorse Donald Trump after Trump attacked a Mexican-American judge. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway joined the many jeers of Kirk's gaffe, because revenge is a dish best served five months later. Peter Weber

5:31 p.m.

Apple might just be getting over its iPhone slump.

In its first quarterly report of the fiscal year, Apple reported a total revenue of $91.82 billion, a big step over estimates of $88.43 billion. That largely comes thanks to the debut of the iPhone 11 late last year, which propelled iPhone revenue to $56 billion in the quarter, CNBC reports via the Tuesday report.

This quarter is the first since the Apple's iPhone 11 debut, which gave Q1 a $23 billion jump from the previous Q4. The $56 billion is also an 8 percent increase year over year.

Before the iPhone 11 debut, Apple had seen quarter after quarter of weak iPhone sales, prompting suggestions that service revenue would be the future of the company. Apple did bring in a service revenue of $12.7 billion in this first quarterly report since the premiere of the company's Apple TV+ service, but it paled in comparison to the company's $79.1 billion product revenue, per TechCrunch. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:24 p.m.

The Fast & Furious franchise somehow keeps finding new ways to baffle the world with its inconsistent titling.

The first footage for the series' ninth installment dropped Tuesday, revealing title of this one not as Fast & Furious 9, but just F9. To clear up any confusion, Universal confirmed to io9's Germain Lussier that yes, F9 is the official name of the movie, although the teaser and the poster throw in "The Fast Saga" for good measure.

This title joins a franchise that started as The Fast and the Furious, only to release a completely different movie called Fast & Furious, only to drop the furious with Fast Five, drop the fast with Furious 7, and that's not even to mention the unforgettably bonkers 2 Fast 2 Furious. Griffin Newman, though, expressed bewilderment Tuesday that this newfound minimalist approach utilized for F9 wasn't just used for the eighth movie, since, as Newman points out, "F8" actually "phonetically sounds like a real word." F9? Not so much.

On the other hand, no doubt previewing the opening line of every review should F9 turn out to be mediocre, Adam Lance Garcia joked we can go ahead and call this one "'fine' for short."

With a tenth installment already confirmed, what insane naming shenanigans might remain up this franchise's sleeve? Whatever it might be, expect Vin Diesel and the family's tradition of inconsistent, nonsensical titles to continue come 2021. Brendan Morrow

5:06 p.m.

Not long after Jeff Bezos' phone was allegedly hacked as a result of a link sent by a WhatsApp account believed to be Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a New York Times journalist was reportedly targeted by Saudi-linked spyware.

Ben Hubbard, who has covered the kingdom extensively, wrote Tuesday that he received a "fishy" looking link in June 2018, which researchers from Citizen Lab determined contained software sold by the Israeli NSO Group and deployed by Saudi Hackers. NSO Group denied its technology was responsible, and the Saudi government didn't provide comment, but Riyadh has denied any involvement in the alleged Bezos infiltration.

Hubbard didn't click on the link, which proved to be the right call, since it appears his phone wasn't compromised. But the mere fact that he received a harmful link is another example of Saudi's possible targeting of journalists and dissidents, which has been magnified since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Per Hubbard, human rights experts think hacking technologies have reached the point where they require enhanced government regulation. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

4:21 p.m.

A tsunami threat message was issued Tuesday after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck near Jamaica and Cuba, CNN reports.

The International Tsunami Information Center said Tuesday "hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts," per Reuters, and CNN writes there was a "threat of tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meter (about 1 to 3 feet) above tide level for the coasts of Jamaica, Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and the Cayman Islands."

The earthquake, which struck shortly after 2:00 p.m. Eastern, was felt in Miami and caused "very strong to severe shaking in far western Jamaica," The Weather Channel reports, citing the U.S. Geological Survey. The Associated Press also reports it could be felt "strongly" in Santiago, where a witness said, "We were all sitting and we felt the chairs move. We heard the noise of everything moving around."

There have not been reports of any casualties, and according to the National Tsunami Warning Center, there is no tsunami threat for the eastern United States or the Gulf of Mexico. The Washington Post reports, though, this "appeared to be one of the biggest [earthquakes] on record in the Caribbean, and the largest since 1946." Brendan Morrow

4:19 p.m.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but Michael Bloomberg is gonna need some work on "shake."

Appearing at a campaign event in Burlington, Vermont, on Monday, the former New York City mayor had no problem remembering the proper form when greeting humans: firm grip, eye contact, friendly smile. But when approached by a dog, everything clearly went out the window:

Well, there goes the canine vote. Jeva Lange

3:30 p.m.

As anticipated, Palestine does not appear ready to sign on to President Trump's Middle East plan, which he presented Tuesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The plan was not considered to be a game-changer after it was revealed. Some experts predict it could even escalate tensions between Israel and Palestine because it does not curb Israeli settlements in the West Bank despite creating a Palestinian state in the region. So it's not a surprise to learn that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas resoundingly rejected what he described as a "nonsense" proposal.

Abbas said Palestine wouldn't "surrender," specifying Palestinians would resist the plan through "peaceful, popular means."

Protests reportedly broke out in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, and a senior official for the militant group also rejected Trump's plan. Abbas reportedly met with leaders of other Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to come up with a response to the proposal. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

3:20 p.m.

The opening arguments in President Trump's impeachment trial officially wrapped up Tuesday, with a little help from 1990s Democrats.

Trump's defense team concluded their arguments hours early on Tuesday, with White House counsel Pat Cipollone saying he "had kind of a lengthy presentation prepared, but ... I think we've made our case."

Democrats previously utilized old clips of Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during their opening arguments, and Trump's team did the same, playing a montage of Democrats during former President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial making similar points as Trump's team.

"There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment, or an impeachment supported by one of our major political parties and opposed by the other," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) says in one 1990s-era clip. In another clip, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voices concern that "we've lowered the bar on impeachment" and that "when a Republican wins the White House, Democrats will demand payback."

"You were right," Cipollone quipped after the montage played. "But I'm sorry to say you were also prophetic."

Cipollone concluded by echoing language previously used by Ken Starr, asking the Senate to "end the era of impeachment for good." With opening arguments concluded, the question period in Trump's impeachment trial will begin Wednesday, while a vote on whether to call witnesses will take place on Friday. Brendan Morrow

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