October 10, 2019

The two recipients of the 2018 and 2019 Nobel prize in literature have just been unveiled.

The 2019 Nobel prize in literature was given to Peter Handke, an Austrian author honored "for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience," the Swedish Academy announced Thursday.

Meanwhile, the 2018 Nobel prize in literature, which wasn't given out last year, went to Olga Tokarczuk, a Polish author honored "for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life." Tokarczuk previously won the prestigious Man Booker International prize in 2018 for her novel Flights. She is just the 15th woman to ever win the Nobel prize in literature, ABC News notes, and BBC News writes she's "considered the leading Polish novelist of her generation."

The Guardian reports that Handke's selection is a "more controversial decision than Tokarczuk," noting that he "famously gave a speech at the 2006 funeral of Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milošević, a decision that was criticised widely."

The Swedish Academy chose not to award a Nobel prize in literature in 2018 following a scandal involving sexual assault allegations, with the organization announcing, "we find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the academy before the next laureate can be announced." The Washington Post notes that it's not unprecedented for two authors to win the Nobel prize in literature in one year, and it occurred most recently in 1974, although unlike in that case, Handke and Tokarczuk won't be sharing the prize. Brendan Morrow

2:15 a.m.

"It seems like every day we're learning something new while we're in quarantine," Jimmy Kimmel said on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. For instance, "did you know Hitler had an alligator? Well, he did, and now that alligator is dead."

"The president and his space poodle were in Florida today for the big NASA/SpaceX launch — this would have been the first time ever that a private company sent astronauts into orbit, which would have been a big deal," Kimmel said. "Unfortunately, the mission had to be scrubbed at the last minute due to weather. ... People online are blaming the president for jinxing this thing because he showed up to see it, just like they say he jinxed Alabama by showing up their home game, or how he's jinxed everything he's ever touched, but this is not his fault."

"It's been an all-caps kind of week for our dear mis-leader — Twitter yesterday, for the first time ever, flagged his tweets as potentially misleading," Kimmel said. "I guess this is good, but I don't know. Do we really need Twitter to tell us our fake president tweets fake things? Is that their job? The president, of course, was displeased. He took to Twitter to lash out at Twitter." He read Trump's tweetrum and said he wasn't sure what it meant.

"I guess it was only a matter of time before Donald Trump would be in a Twitter feud with Twitter," Kimmel said. "But this new kick he's on, trying to stop voting-by-mail, is actually very scary, because it's pretty clear he's setting the stage to claim he was cheated if he loses the election, which could potentially result in real violence in this country. And to help him push our democracy toward the edge of a cliff, Kellyanne Conway spoke to reporters today to say: pandemic, schmandemic, real American voters wait in line." At least for cupcakes.

Late Night's Seth Meyers presented a cartoon mashup of Trump's family quarantine and The Shining, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

1:38 a.m.

Scientists were able to capture rare audio of narwhal vocalizations as several swam through a fjord in Greenland, and they discovered that these elusive whales make some familiar sounds underwater.

Known as the unicorns of the sea, narwhals live in the Arctic waters. Evgeny Podolskiy of Japan's Hokkaido University, who studies the sounds of glaciers, realized that to get a fuller picture, he needed to understand what noises the narwhal makes. Last summer, he led a team of geophysicists to Greenland, where they worked with Inuit hunters to record the different noises of the narwhal. Their study was published Tuesday in the AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.

The team was able to capture narwhals whistling, clicking, and buzzing. Narwhals use echolocation to find food, and the researchers found that the closer a narwhal gets to its prey, the faster it clicks, and the buzzing noise sounds like a chainsaw. When narwhals want to communicate with each other, they whistle. The researchers said the recordings have helped them better understand narwhal behavior and how they find food in the summer. Catherine Garcia

1:08 a.m.

It is unclear why President Trump, who voted by mail in March, is suddenly so vehemently opposed to voting by mail. But he could have easily vote in person in March, CNN reports. Trump spent March 7-9 in Palm Beach, Florida, his new legal residence. Early voting started in Florida on March 7, and there were 15 early voting sites in Palm Beach, including eight within 15 miles of Mar-a-Lago, CNN notes. One of those sites, Main Palm Beach County Library, is literally across the road from the entrance to Trump's golf club, which he visited three times that weekend.

When asked why he votes by mail, Trump says "absentee" voting is fine. "As an example, I have to do an absentee because I'm voting in Florida, and I happen to be president," living in the White House, he said Tuesday in the Rose Garden. "If you're president of the United States and if you vote in Florida, and you can't be there, you should be able to send in a ballot," Trump said in Michigan last week.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who voted by mail in Florida at least 11 times in the past decade, said last week that Trump is "unable to cast his vote down in Florida," so "that's why he had to do a mail-in vote. But he supports mail-in voting for a reason, when you have a reason that you are unable to be present." She tweeted Wednesday that "absentee voting" means "you're absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person." Florida, like many states, doesn't require an excuse to vote by mail — registered voters just have to do is ask.

"Trump's hard line appears to be driven by his personal suspicions and concerns about his own re-election prospects," The Associated Press noted last month. He has said he thinks expanding vote-by-mail would increase participation in the 2020 election and doom Republican candidates nationwide — a study from Stanford University last week was the latest to find no partisan advantage from mail-in voting, or perhaps a slight boost for Republicans — and he falsely claims it increases vote fraud. Twitter's flagging of Trump's false claims was the proximate cause of Trump's threat to take unspecified actions against his favorite micro-blogging platform. Peter Weber

12:53 a.m.

American Airlines told employees on Wednesday that it plans on cutting its management and administrative staff by 30 percent, as the company struggles with low demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

American has about 17,000 management and support workers, and the move will eliminate more than 5,000 jobs. Because of the pandemic, the number of passengers on planes plummeted in March and April, and airlines believe it could take years before travel is back to where it was pre-pandemic.

In a letter to employees, Elise Eberwein, American's executive vice president of people and global engagement, wrote that the company "must plan for operating a smaller airline for the foreseeable future." Volunteers will be able to take buyouts through June 10, but if not enough people step forward, forced cuts will be made.

American will keep the employees on its payroll through the end of September, as this was a requirement for airlines to receive billions in government aid. The company has received $5.8 billion to cover labor costs and has applied for an additional $4.75 billion government loan. Catherine Garcia

May 27, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday delivered a message to the families of the 100,000 Americans who are known to have died of COVID-19, letting them know that they are not alone.

"This nation grieves with you," he said in a video posted on social media. "Take some solace from the fact that we all grieve with you." On Wednesday, the U.S. coronavirus death toll surpassed 100,000, and Biden said this was a "moment in our history so grim, so heart-rending" that it will be "forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief."

Biden touched on how tragic a coronavirus death is, as many families and friends aren't able to be with their loved one due to hospital restrictions and they die alone. "It's made all the worse by knowing that this is a fateful milestone we never should have reached and could have been avoided," Biden said, referring to a recent Columbia University study that showed had federal social distancing guidelines been implemented one week earlier, 36,000 deaths may have been averted.

The grief may feel "suffocating" now, Biden said, and he knows his sympathies won't "dull the sharpness of the pain you feel right now," but he "can promise you from experience, the day will come when the memory of your loved one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. My prayer for all of you is that the day will come sooner rather than later. God bless each and every one of you and the blessed memory of the one you lost." Catherine Garcia

May 27, 2020

Hundreds of demonstrators in downtown Los Angeles protesting against the death of George Floyd temporarily blocked both sides of the 101 Freeway on Wednesday evening.

The protesters started near City Hall and marched through downtown, with several dozen then walking onto the freeway. ABC Los Angeles reports that one person used a skateboard to smash the back window of a California Highway Patrol car, and another was injured when he got onto the hood and then fell off, hitting his head.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed on Monday night after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. The incident was recorded, and Floyd is heard on the video saying, "I can't breathe." The officer, Derek Chauvin, and three others who were on the scene were fired on Tuesday. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Wednesday said criminal charges need to be filed against Chauvin. Catherine Garcia

May 27, 2020

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Wednesday that President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Thursday "pertaining to social media," but didn't elaborate on what exactly that means.

On Tuesday, Twitter labeled two of Trump's tweets on mail-in ballots as being misleading, with links to a fact-check page on the matter. It was the first time Twitter flagged false claims by Trump, and he quickly tweeted in response that the company was "interfering" in the 2020 presidential election. He continued to note his displeasure on Wednesday morning, tweeting that Republicans "feel Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen."

Trump has been on a tweeting and retweeting spree over the last few days, and has drawn ire for refusing to stop spreading a baseless conspiracy theory that ties MSNBC host Joe Scarborough to the death of a woman who worked as one of his staffers when Scarborough was a member of Congress. Catherine Garcia

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