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Detained Americans on house arrest in planned Iran prisoner swap: The Rundown Aug. 11, 2023

Aug 11, 2023

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An encouraging step takes place in a plan to get detained Americans home from Iran. And a 300,000-year-old skull is raising new questions about humans. It’s time for The Rundown for Friday, Aug. 11, 2023.   

Americans moved to house arrest in Iran under planned prisoner swap

Five Americans imprisoned in Iran have been placed under house arrest in what U.S. officials are calling a significant step in their return home.

The Americans have been held prisoner in Iran for several years, one being imprisoned for nearly eight. The move is part of a planned prisoner exchange that would see the release of roughly $6 billion in Iranian government assets currently frozen in South Korea under U.S. sanctions.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Aug. 10 that the move is an encouraging start for the Americans’ return.

“My belief is that this is the beginning of the end of their nightmare and the nightmare that their families have experienced,” Blinken said.

Back in 2015, then-President Barack Obama came under fire from Republicans for a similar deal with Iran. Now, President Joe Biden is receiving the same reaction.

Among the Republicans voicing their concerns with the deal is Senator Jim Risch of Idaho who posted on social media, “While I welcome home wrongfully detained Americans, unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian assets dangerously further incentivizes hostage taking & provides a windfall for regime aggression. The Biden administration must punish those who use Americans as political pawns and work to end this practice.”

Due to current U.S. sanctions, Iran would only be allowed to use the funds for food, medicine and other humanitarian purposes. As part of the proposed swap, an unknown number of Iranians detained in America will be transferred back to Iran.

Officials say the transfer of the money and the release of the five Americans are expected in the next month. 

Death toll from Hawaii wildfires rises, thousands flee island

The wildfires that have torn through Hawaii’s island of Maui are now responsible for killing at least 55 people. It’s one of the deadliest wildfires in recent U.S. history.

More than 50 others were pulled from the Pacific Ocean and rescued by the Coast Guard. Dozens of people had jumped into the water to escape the flames closing in.

With Maui being a sought-after tourist destination, airports have been slammed over the course of several days as thousands of visitors try to leave. Eleven-hundred tourists flew out on Aug. 9, another 1,500 the next day and similar numbers are expected to follow.

President Biden has declared a major disaster on Maui. FEMA is sending resources their way as the island’s charred reality begins to set in.

Russia launches first lunar mission in 50 years

Russia has launched its first mission to the moon in nearly 50 years. Russia’s rocket is in a race with India which launched its lunar lander last month. Only three governments have ever managed to successfully land on the moon: the United States, China and the Soviet Union.

Russia and India are aiming to be the first to land on the moon’s south pole. This location piques the interest of scientists who believe its permanently shadowed craters just might contain water.

Also in out of this world news, billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket-powered space plane flew almost 55 miles high carrying its first group of tourists after decades in the making. Those on the ride included a mother-daughter duo who won tickets for the trip. Tickets for Virgin Galactic cost $450,000.  

Record-high suicide deaths in 2022, but a decrease in young people

Data released Aug. 10 from the CDC shows that suicide deaths reached a record high in 2022. About 49,500 hundred people died by suicide last year in the U.S.

That’s the highest number ever recorded and a 5 percent increase from the previous record high in 2018. Rates had fallen in 2019 and 2020 during the first year of the pandemic, but in 2021 suicides were once again ticking upward.

People ages 65 and older saw the largest increase in suicides. While for young people it was the opposite. Those ages 10 to 24 saw an 8 percent drop. The CDC credits this to a higher awareness and emphasis on mental health.

A national crisis line launched a year ago meaning anyone in the U.S. can dial 9-8-8 to reach mental health specialists. The CDC hopes this will help lower the unprecedented suicide rates.

Driverless taxi service expanding in San Francisco

If you live or plan to visit San Francisco and need to hail a cab, you may be surprised who’s behind the wheel. Because now there’s a good chance it could be nobody.

On Aug. 10, the California Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of expanding driverless taxi service in the city, despite vocal opponents of the technology who claim the cars to be potential road hazards. While these driverless cars have not led to any major crashes, they have been known to shut down on the roadway when encountering an obstacle like a fire hose.

Cruise, owned by General Motors, operates 300 vehicles during the night and 100 during the day. Alphabet-owned Waymo has a fleet of 250 used in the daytime.

An executive with Cruise called the decision a “historic industry milestone.”

Study: 300,000-year-old skull found in China unlike any other

A discovery by a team of international researchers – a 300,000-year-old skull – is said to be unlike any other found before.  Those who located the skull in eastern China say it is “unexpected” and does not fit into any known classification.

Though discovered in 2015, the researchers just released their findings in the Journal of Human Evolution.  The skull is believed to have belonged to a 12 or 13 year old.  The study’s author says more work needs to be done to properly place this discovery on the human family tree.

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AN ENCOURAGING STEP TAKES PLACE IN A PLAN TO GET DETAINED AMERICANS HOME FROM IRAN

AND —

A 300,000-YEAR-OLD SKULL IS RAISING NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT HUMANS.

THE RUNDOWN STARTS NOW.

THIS IS STRAIGHT-ARROW NEWS.

BRINGING YOU UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACTS.

TODAY IS FRIDAY — AUGUST 11TH.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

I’M KARAH RUCKER.

[L3: 5 AMERICANS MOVED TO HOUSE ARREST IN IRAN UNDER PLANNED PRISONER SWAP]

FIVE AMERICANS IMPRISONED IN IRAN HAVE BEEN PLACED UNDER HOUSE ARREST – IN WHAT US OFFICIALS ARE CALLING A SIGNIFICANT STEP IN THEIR RETURN HOME.

THE AMERICANS HAVE BEEN HELD PRISONER IN IRAN FOR SEVERAL YEARS, ONE BEING IMPROSINED FOR NEARLY EIGHT.

THE MOVE IS PART OF A PLANNED PRISONER EXCHANGE THAT WOULD SEE THE RELEASE OF ROUGHLY $6 BILLION IN IRANIAN GOVERNMENT ASSETS CURRENTLY FROZEN IN SOUTH KOREA UNDER U.S. SANCTIONS.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN TOLD REPORTERS THURSDAY THAT THE MOVE IS AN ENCOURAGING START FOR THE AMERICANS’ RETURN.

“My belief is that this is the beginning of the end of their nightmare and the nightmare that their families have experienced”

BACK IN 2015, THEN-PRESIDENT OBAMA CAME UNDER FIRE FROM REPUBLICANS FOR A SIMILAR DEAL WITH IRAN. NOW, PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IS RECEIVING THE SAME REACTION.

AMONG THE REPUBLICANS VOICING THEIR CONCERNS WITH THE DEAL -SENTAOR JIM RISCH OF IDAHO WHO POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA, “WHILE I WELCOME HOME WRONGFULLY DETAINED AMERICANS, UNFREEZING $6 BILLION IN IRANIAN ASSETS DANGEROUSLY FURTHER INCENTIVIZES HOSTAGE TAKING & PROVIDES A WINDFALL FOR REGIME AGGRESSION.

THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MUST PUNISH THOSE WHO USE AMERICANS AS POLITICAL PAWNS AND WORK TO END THIS PRACTICE.”

DUE TO CURRENT U.S. SANCTIONS – IRAN WOULD ONLY BE ALLOWED TO USE THE FUNDS FOR FOOD, MEDICINE AND OTHER HUMANITARIAN PURPOSES.

AS PART OF THE PROPOSED SWAP, AN UNKNOWN NUMBER OF IRANIANS DETAINED IN AMERICA WILL BE TRANSFERRED BACK TO IRAN.

OFFICIALS SAY THE TRANSFER OF THE MONEY AND THE RELEASE OF THE FIVE AMERICANS IS EXPECTED IN THE NEXT MONTH.

THE WILDFIRES THAT HAVE TORN THROUGH HAWAII’S ISLAND OF MAUI IS NOW RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING AT LEAST 55 PEOPLE.

IT’S ONE OF THE DEADLIEST WILDFIRES IN RECENT U.S. HISTORY.

MORE THAN 50 OTHERS WERE PULLED FROM THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND RESCUED BY THE COAST GUARD

DOZENS OF PEOPLE JUMPING INTO THE WATER TO ESCAPE THE FLAMES CLOSING IN.

WITH MAUI BEING A SOUGHT-AFTER TOURIST DESTINATION —

AIRPORTS HAVE BEEN SLAMMED OVER THE COURSE OF SEVERAL DAYS AS THOUSANDS OF VISITORS TRY TO LEAVE.

11 HUNDRED TOURISTS FLEW OUT WEDNESDAY — ANOTHER 15 HUNDRED THURSDAY — AND SIMILAR NUMBERS ARE EXPECTED TO FOLLOW.

PRESIDENT BIDEN DECLARED A MAJOR DISASTER ON MAUI —

FEMA IS SENDING RESOURCES THEIR WAY AS THE ISLAND’S CHARRED REALITY BEGINS TO SET IN.

RUSSIA HAS LAUNCHED ITS FIRST MISSION TO THE MOON IN NEARLY **50 YEARS.

ITS ROCKET IS IN A RACE WITH INDIA —

ONLY THREE GOVERNMENTS HAVE EVER MANAGED TO SUCCESSFULLY LAND ON THE MOON —

THE UNITED STATES. CHINA. AND THE SOVIET UNION.

RUSSIA AND INDIA ARE AIMING TO BE THE FIRST TO LAND ON THE MOON’S ***SOUTH POLE.

THIS LOCATION PIQUES THE INTEREST OF SCIENTISTS WHO BELIEVE BECAUSE ITS PERMANENTLY SHADOWED CRATERS — JUST **MIGHT CONTAIN WATER.

IT WAS A BUSY DAY IN THE SKIES AND BEYOND —

AS BILLIONAIRE RICHARD BRANSON’S “VIRGIN GALACTIC” ROCKET-POWERED SPACE PLANE FLEW ALMOST 55 MILES HIGH CARRYING ITS FIRST GROUP OF TOURISTS — AFTER DECADES IN THE MAKING.

INCLUDING A MOTHER-DAUGHTER DUO WHO WON TICKETS TO JOIN THE RIDE.

BRANSON’S VIRGIN GALACTIC NOW JOINS JEFF BEZOS’ “BLUE ORIGIN” AND ELON MUSK’S “SPACE X” IN ITS ABILITY TO OFFER MONTHLY RIDES —

AS THE SPACE TOURISM BUSINESS EXPANDS.

TICKETS FOR VIRGIN GALACTIC WILL COST YOU 450 THOUSAND DOLLARS.

RECORD-HIGH SUICIDES IN 2022, BUT A DECREASE IN YOUNG PEOPLE

NEW DATA FROM THE CDC SHOWS THAT SUICIDES REACHED A RECORD HIGH IN 20-22.

ABOUT 49 THOUSAND 500 HUNDRED” PEOPLE DIED BY SUICIDE LAST YEAR IN THE U.S.

THAT’S THE HIGHEST NUMBER EVER —

AND A 5 PERCENT INCREASE FROM THE PREVIOUS RECORD HIGH IN 2018.

RATES HAD FALLEN IN 2019 AND 2020 DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF THE PANDEMIC.

BUT IN 2021 — SUICIDES WERE ONCE AGAIN TICKING UPWARD.

PEOPLE AGES 65 AND OLDER SAW THE LARGEST INCREASE IN SUICIDES.

WHILE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IT WAS THE OPPOSITE.

THOSE AGES 10 TO 24 SAW AN 8 PERCENT DROP.

THE CDC CREDITS THIS TO A HIGHER AWARENESS AND EMPHASIS ON MENTAL HEALTH.

A NATIONAL CRISIS LINE LAUNCHED A YEAR AGO —

MEANING ANYONE IN THE U.S. CAN DIAL 9-8-8 TO REACH MENTAL HEALTH SPECIALISTS —

SOMETHING THE CDC HOPES WILL HELP LOWER THE UNPRECEDENTED SUICIDE RATES.

IF YOU LIVE OR PLAN TO VISIT SAN FRANCISCO AND NEED TO HAIL A CAB, YOU MAY BE SURPRISED WHO’S BEHIND THE WHEEL.

BECAUSE NOW THERE’S A GOOD CHANCE IT COULD BE NOBODY.

ON THURSDAY THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILTIES COMMISSION VOTED IN FAVOR OF EXPANDING DRIVERLES TAXI SERVICE IN THE CITY – THIS DESPITE VOCAL OPPONENTS OF THE TECHONLOGY WHO CLAIM THE CARS TO BE POTENTIAL ROAD HAZARDS.

WHILE THESE DRIVERLESS CARS HAVE NOT LED TO ANY MAJOR CRASHES, THEY HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO SHUT DOWN ON THE ROADWAY WHEN ENCOUNTERING AN OBSTACLE LIKE A FIRE HOSE.

CRUISE, OWNED BY GENERAL MOTORS, OPERATES 300 VEHICLES DURING THE NIGHT AND 100 DURING THE DAY. ALPHABET-OWNED WAY-MO HAS A FLEET OF 250 USED IN THE DAYTIME.

AN EXECUTIVE WITH CRUISE CALLED THE DECISION A QUOTE “HISTORIC INDUSTRY MILESTONE.”

FINALLY THIS MORNING, A DISCOVERY BY A TEAM OF INTERNATIONAL RESEARCHERS – A 300,000 YEAR OLD SKULL – IS SAID TO BE UNLIKE ANY OTHER FOUND BEFORE.

THOSE WHO LOCATED THE SKULL IN EASTERN CHINA SAY IT IS QUOTE – “UNEXPECTED” AND DOES NOT FIT INTO ANY KNOWN CLASSIFICATION.

THOUGH DISCOVERED IN 2015, THE RESEARCHERS JUST RELEASED THEIR FINDINGS IN THE JOURNAL OF HUMAN EVOLUTION.

THE SKULL IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BELONGED TO A 12 OR 13 YEAR OLD.

THE STUDY’S AUTHOR SAYS MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE TO PROPERLY PLACE THIS DISCOVERY ON THE HUMAN FAMILY TREE.

THOSE ARE YOUR TOP STORIES THIS FRIDAY MORNING.

THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS AS YOUR TRUSTED SOURCE.

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UNBIASED. STRAIGHT FACTS. THAT’S STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS.

WE’LL SEE YOU BACK HERE MONDAY!

UNTIL THEN I’M KARAH RUCKER.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

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