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5 things to know for August 23: GOP debate, Maui, Covid-19, Indian lunar lander, UPS


By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

(CNN) — A lot of hope has been placed on the possibility of ending the strikes that have paused Hollywood productions. This week, major studios outlined their latest offer to striking writers, including what the studios say is the highest wage increase in 35 years. However, it remains unclear whether the writers’ union will agree to the deal or remain on the picket line.

Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

1. GOP debate

Eight candidates will participate in the first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate tonight in Milwaukee. Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the party’s nomination, is not only skipping the first debate of the season — he’s also attempting to wrangle the spotlight away from the event with a pre-recorded interview with fired former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that’s expected to be released around the same time as the debate. The former president’s absence from the stage offers his GOP rivals an opportunity to introduce themselves as they vie to emerge as the party’s top alternative. The two-hour debate, hosted by Fox News, is set to start at 9 p.m. ET. CNN will cover the debate at, including live updates, analysis and fact checks.

2. Maui reconstruction

The devastating wildfires in Hawaii that killed at least 115 people have caused up to $6 billion in economic losses, according to new estimates from Moody’s RMS. More than 2,200 structures were damaged or destroyed and 2,170 acres have burned as a result of the Lahaina Fire on Maui, according to FEMA and the Pacific Disaster Center. About 75% of the losses will be covered by insurance because of the island’s high insurance penetration rates, according to the risk modeling agency. Most of the losses are concentrated in Lahaina, Moody’s said, where insured property value ranged from $2.5 billion to $4 billion. Beyond the incalculable emotional toll from the fires, experts also say Maui’s rebuilding effort will be so expensive because construction costs about 44% more in Hawaii compared to the mainland US.

3. Covid-19

It may be time to break out masks again to protect yourself from a recent uptick in Covid-19 cases, according to a growing number of experts. There were about four new hospital admissions for every 100,000 people nationwide in the week ending August 12, which is considered low according to CDC thresholds. But 85 counties in the US were in the medium threshold range, and about a quarter of those counties were in Florida. The growing number of hospitalizations has also triggered concern among medical professionals who say high-risk groups should increase precautions due to the new highly mutated variant, BA.2.86. This comes as the US government announced Tuesday it has awarded more than $1.4 billion to kick-start the development of new vaccines and therapies to prevent another spike in Covid-19 cases.

4. Indian lunar lander

India has landed its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the moon, becoming only the fourth nation ever to accomplish such a feat. The mission could cement India’s status as a global superpower in space. Previously, only the United States, China and the former Soviet Union have completed soft landings on the lunar surface. Chandrayaan-3’s landing site is also closer to the moon’s south pole than any other spacecraft in history has ventured. The south pole region is considered an area of key scientific and strategic interest for spacefaring nations, as scientists believe the region to be home to water ice deposits. India’s attempt to land its spacecraft near the lunar south pole comes just days after Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft crashed into the moon on August 19 after its engines misfired, ending the country’s first lunar landing attempt in 47 years.

5. UPS

Members of the Teamsters union have ratified a five-year deal with UPS, putting an end to the threat of a strike that could have involved around 340,000 UPS workers. The union said 86% of members voted for the five-year contract, which includes across-the-board pay raises of $2.75 an hour and total raises of at least $7.50 an hour, or more than $15,000 a year for full-time workers. Some UPS employees received even larger raises as the company agreed to eliminate a lower pay scale for many of the workers hired since 2018. The company also agreed to address the complaints that 95,000 delivery vans in its US fleet do not have air conditioning. Although UPS did not agree to retrofit the existing vans with air conditioning, it did agree to purchase only air-conditioned vehicles starting next year.


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“[The Smithsonian] is grappling with a legacy once deemed acceptable but that is so clearly ethically wrong today.”

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