By Alexandra Meeks, CNN
Halloween is still more than a month away, but some major retailers are already gearing up for Christmas. Walmart and Target have announced they are starting the holiday shopping season earlier this year in stores and online as households across the country continue to grapple with persistently high inflation, which is forcing them to cut spending.
Here’s what else you need to know Stay connected and get on with your day.
(You can get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” in your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. Hurricane Fiona
Canadians are preparing for what may be the strongest storm to ever hit their country’s coast. Hurricane Fiona, which has already battered the Caribbean, is expected to pass Bermuda today before impacting eastern Canada on Saturday morning. Residents of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are being warned to prepare for Fiona’s impact. The Category 4 storm, which has already killed at least five people and left millions without power this week, will bring damaging winds, high waves and heavy rain that could cause prolonged power outages, local officials said. Several schools, government agencies and other businesses in the area closed today to prepare for the storm.
Occupied parts of Ukraine are voting today in mock referendums on joining Russia. The referendums, which violate international law, were largely condemned by the West as illegitimate. Such a move could provide Moscow with an excuse to escalate its stalled invasion, which has seen Ukraine reclaim thousands of square miles of territory this month. The European Union has said it will not recognize the results and has indicated it is preparing a new package of sanctions against Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, backed the referenda in a recent address to the nation. Separately, long traffic queues have been reported at several of Russia’s key land borders as Russian citizens try to flee the newly announced “partial mobilization”.
A Florida Democratic lawmaker is suing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to stop him from transporting more migrants from the southern border, arguing that last week’s flights to Martha’s Vineyard violated state law. State Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat, says DeSantis illegally misspent taxpayers’ money by flying about 50 migrants from San Antonio to the Massachusetts island. DeSantis has vowed to transport more migrants from the border, previously telling reporters that the flights to Martha’s Vineyard are “just the beginning.” DeSantis said the promotion was paid for with $12 million allocated in the state budget and he promised to use “every penny.”
4. Pandemic Fraud
More than $45 billion in pandemic unemployment benefits may have been fraudulently paid to criminals between March 2020 and April 2022, the US Labor Department said in a memo on Thursday. This is the latest report identifying widespread schemes to steal money from a variety of federal aid programs after Congress approved an expansion of the program to help Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s also a big jump from the June 2021 estimate of $16 billion. The scam skyrocketed as state employment agencies were overwhelmed with a record number of applications and relaxed some requirements to quickly distribute the money to those who lost their jobs. In five months, more than 57 million people applied for unemployment benefits.
5. Air travel
Boeing has agreed to pay $200 million for misleading the public about the safety of its 737 Max plane after two deadly crashes in 2018 and 189 people, Boeing and then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg knew part of the plane’s flight control system posed an ongoing safety issue – but told the public it was safe to fly. After a fatal crash of the 737 Max in March 2019, the SEC alleges that Boeing and Muilenburg knowingly misled the public about “slips” and “gaps” in the certification process of that flight control system. Elsewhere in the airline industry, American Airlines recently announced it would ban a recalcitrant passenger for life after the person hit a flight attendant.
Space Force’s theme song becomes comedy fodder
The United States Space Force has a new theme song… but critics say the tune is so dull and boring, it will make you go to space.
Boston Celtics head coach suspended for entire NBA seasonn
Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was suspended after he had a consensual relationship with a team employee.
Ye West apologizes to Kim Kardashian in GMA interview
Kanye West, now Ye, shared the news for his ex-wife on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Fetuses smile for carrots but grimace for kale, study finds
A 4D image of a fetus shows a “crying” response after being exposed to kale, but a “smiling face” in the womb when exposed to carrots. Check out the interesting – and relatable – images here.
London Fashion Week highlights
Britain went into national mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. But emerging brands kept the show going, and many designers paid creative tributes to the late monarch.
According to the FAA, how many hours of flying experience is required before a pilot can work for an airline?
Take CNN’s weekly news quiz here to see if you got it right!
That’s how much FedEx will increase its ground and express shipping rates over the next year, the company said Thursday. Freight rates will also increase by an average of 6.9% to 7.9%. FedEx said the ailing global economy, particularly in Asia and Europe, has hurt its business. The company is responding by reducing flights, cutting its employees’ hours and closing 90 FedEx offices and five corporate offices.
THE TODAY QUOTE
“Today the government of Nicaragua shut down our television signal and denied Nicaraguans the news and information from our television network that they have relied on for 25 years.”
–CNN en Español, which issued a statement after the Nicaragua government abruptly pulled CNNE from the air this week shortly after 10 p.m. local time on Wednesday. In recent months, CNN en Español has reported examples of repression by the country’s government under fifth-term President Daniel Ortega. While the government has not explained why it removed CNN’s Spanish-language service, the move comes because Ortega’s regime has cracked down on the press and critics over the past two years.
Check your local forecast here>>>
Sidewalk drawings that mess up your perception
This street art looks like it will interact with its surroundings! Some are so realistic you might have to stare a bit! (click here to view)
The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery company. All rights reserved.