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May 25, 2018

Summer weather has arrived, and people are evidently planning to make the most of it over the upcoming long weekend.

A huge number of Americans are planning to hit the road over Memorial Day weekend, AAA estimated on Friday. Around 42 million people are expected to take some kind of trip, a 5 percent increase from last year's holiday weekend and the highest estimate in more than a decade.

"A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway," said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president at AAA.

About 37 million will be driving to their destination, despite gas prices surging to their highest level in the last four years, reports Reuters. Airfare prices are also slightly down, likely a factor for many of the three million who will be flying for Memorial Day weekend. AAA expects that air travel will see an even bigger jump this year, with a 6.8 percent increase compared to last Memorial Day. Summer Meza

2:56 p.m.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has survived a confidence vote in her leadership, but a much bigger challenge is just getting started.

May's plan for a slow British exit from the European Union was historically denied Tuesday, 432-202. Opposition party leader Jeremy Corbyn scheduled a confidence vote in May's leadership for Wednesday, and she narrowly survived it, with 306 MPs voting no confidence and 325 voting with her, CNN notes. She'll now have until Monday to formulate a new Brexit plan.

Tuesday's vote to deny May's Brexit deal was expected, with even members of May's Conservative Party rallying against her. It set a record for the harshest defeat a government has received in Parliament. Still, May's leadership was predicted to be upheld in Wednesday's confidence vote. The country is slated to leave the E.U. in 72 days, and will either have to agree on another deal, leave with no deal, or hold a second referendum on the decision. Following the confidence vote, Corbyn said the government should remove the prospect of a no-deal Brexit from consideration, which May declined to do. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:09 p.m.

Maine, we have a problem.

It appears that the moon has somehow crashed into the northern state's Presumpscot River. It's a lot smaller than we previously thought, and also it's a flat circle made of ice.

An practically perfect ice disk is floating on the river's surface, slowly and mesmerizingly spinning away, the Portland Press Herald describes. The disk was first spotted Monday and has since grown to a massive 100 yards across — and it's also sparking some serious alien talk.

This giant disk isn't a portal to the underworld, but rather a naturally occurring phenomenon. Scientists aren't entirely sure how the disks get so big, but they assume little bits of ice originally stick together and keep piling on as the floe rotates, a physics professor tells Maine Public Radio.

Admirers aren't encouraged to stand on the disk, but wildfowl certainly are. Rob Mitchell, who first spotted the circle, told the Press Herald there were "ducks sitting on ... this big Lazy Susan," adding that it "was a big duck-go-round." Check out more footage of the beautiful duck carousel below. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

1:56 p.m.

Steve Carell and the creator of The Office are reuniting for a new comedy series, and they have President Trump to thank for the idea.

Carell will star in Netflix's Space Force, which comes from The Office's Greg Daniels, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It's being described as a workplace comedy, and as you might glean from the title, it was inspired by Trump's announcement last June that he would be ordering the creation of a sixth military branch that has been dubbed Space Force.

A teaser trailer released by Netflix Wednesday ties itself directly to that news, mocking the 2018 announcement while not directly mentioning Trump's name and saying that the show is the story of the "men and women who have to figure [the creation of Space Force] out." Howard Klein, a producer on The Office, will also serve as producer on this show, which has received a straight-to-series order. Carell, the Reporter notes, will receive a hefty payday for the series, possibly more than $1 million per episode.

This is the second show Carell has boarded after spending years focused on feature films. In October, he signed on to a new Apple original series about morning news, although that's a drama, so Space Force will be his first regular starring role in a comedy series since he left The Office in 2011.

Watch the announcement of Space Force below. Brendan Morrow

1:30 p.m.

At least two Netflix originals appear to have featured footage from an actual disaster that left 47 people dead.

The mayor of Canada's Lac-Mégantic, Julie Morin, earlier this week accused Netflix's Travelers of using real footage from a rail disaster that occurred in the Quebec town in 2013, CBC reports. The president of Peacock Alley Entertainment, which produces the science-fiction series, subsequently apologized and said that when they obtained the footage, they "weren't aware of its specific source." Peacock Alley also promised to remove the clip from the show, and Netflix soon confirmed the video would be replaced.

But things didn't end there, as Morin then accused Netflix of also using footage from the same tragedy in the Sandra Bullock film Bird Box. Netflix hasn't responded to this or confirmed the footage was used on a second project, but video shown during an early scene when Bullock's character is watching the news looks quite similar to the 2013 incident, although it's likely Netflix got it from a stock footage library, notes The Washington Post. Netflix told CBC it's looking into whether the footage was used in Bird Box.

This is not the first instance of real footage from a tragedy being controversially used on TV, as in 2017, Fox came under fire when video from an actual shooting in Kenya that left 67 people dead turned up in 24: Legacy, BBC News reported at the time. The show's producers said they "apologize for any pain caused to the victims and their families and are deeply sorry." Brendan Morrow

1:25 p.m.

Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler told senators Wednesday that "the biggest issue with wildfires is forest management ... not drought," Axios reports. He made the claim during his confirmation hearing to become the agency's permanent head.

A federal climate report released late last year outlined the effects of climate change on wildfires, and found with medium confidence that human-caused climate change has contributed to forest fires in Alaska. The report also predicted a continued increase in the number of forest fires due to climate change.

California saw its deadliest wildfire in history last year, and the 2018 wildfire season was the state's worst, Axios reports. July of 2018 was California's hottest month on record. President Trump, like Wheeler, blamed the disasters on poor forest management, and threatened to end federal relief payments to California unless the state changed its forest management techniques. Experts say forest management is a factor, but not the sole cause of wildfires, especially in non-forested areas of California that burned last year.

Rising temperatures also contribute to the lengthening of the wildfire season, in part by worsening droughts. Read more at Axios, and more about climate change's role in California's fires here at The Week. Marianne Dodson

12:56 p.m.

As day 25 of the government shutdown was dawning, that seemed to be the biggest political story of the morning.

At 6:07 a.m., MSNBC was focused on how U.S. Coast Guard members weren't receiving a paycheck — the first time American service members weren't being paid in a government shutdown. CNN discussed a report suggesting the White House would double its estimate on how the shutdown will hurt GDP growth.

But Fox & Friends? It was talking about a migrant caravan, which just left Honduras yesterday with about 2,000 members.

The government partially shut down Dec. 21 amid President Trump's ongoing demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, which Democrats refuse to bend to. In a way, Fox & Friends' talking point somewhat tied to that aspect of the shutdown, as Trump used the previous migrant caravan as a fear-stoking argument for a wall.

Just like the migrant caravan that arrived late last year, the caravan will probably take more than a month to reach the U.S.-Mexico border. But unlike the previous caravan, many of these migrants say they will stop in Mexico and try to find work there. Even if they do make it to the border, these migrants will probably be stuck waiting for months and even years in Mexico as they try to make asylum claims in America. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:55 p.m.

Is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) formally disinviting President Trump from delivering his State of the Union address on Jan. 29, or merely suggesting it be postponed? It seems even the House majority leader isn't quite sure.

Pelosi said in a letter to Trump Wednesday that the State of the Union should be rescheduled in light of the partial government shutdown. Pelosi used the word "suggest" in her letter, though, and didn't declare that the event was officially canceled or that she was rescinding the invitation.

But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) went on CNN and said that Pelosi wasn't really making a request and that the address is, in fact, not happening as planned. "The State of the Union is off," he told CNN, per Talking Points Memo. Hoyer explained that it's the speaker of the House who invites the president to address Congress, suggesting Pelosi is rescinding her invite to Trump until the government re-opens. When asked if the Democrats could be convinced otherwise if Trump wants to keep the Jan. 29 date, Hoyer simply responded, "No."

But almost immediately after this CNN segment aired, a spokesperson for Hoyer walked this statement back, saying he just "misunderstood" the situation because he didn't actually read Pelosi's letter, Slate's Jim Newell reports. "Still just a proposal from Pelosi, not a formal disinvitation," the spokesperson said, also telling The New York Times' Julie Davis that Hoyer had "mischaracterized" the letter.

Pelosi's office also says that she's simply making a proposal and not actually disinviting Trump — for now, at least. Brendan Morrow

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