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May 16, 2018

Octopuses are pretty weird. So weird, in fact, that we know very little about their strange and solitary existences, with Quartz suggesting that "they are the closest creature to an alien here on Earth." Now, 33 scientists from respectable institutions like the University of Alberta's Department of Biochemistry and the Center for the Physics of Living Organisms at Michigan Technological University have taken it a step further — and suggested that octopuses might have actually arrived on Earth millions of years ago from outer space, The Daily Grail reports.

The researchers' claim is made in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, and it suggests that a "plausible explanation" for the octopus' genetic weirdness is that "squid and/or octopus eggs arrived in icy bodies several hundred million years ago."

This is quite the leap from the slightly-less-fringe theory of panspermia, which is "the idea that life has spread throughout the universe via comets, asteroids, etc.," as The Daily Grail explains — although panspermia is typically thought of as a possible method for the delivery of microbes or viruses to our planet. The researchers are actually suggesting that "cryopreserved" octopus eggs crashed into Earth several million years ago as a legitimate explanation for the creatures' extraordinary evolution.

There are plenty of skeptics, including biologist P.Z. Myers, who calls the research "garbage" and notes that while there "are novelties in cephalopod evolution," that doesn't just mean you can use it "as evidence [of] an outer space origin for the octopus." He argues that if octopuses really came from another world, "they would be completely unrelated to any other animal lineage on the planet. They would not be related to other mollusks … They would be totally alien." Read more about the debate over whether octopuses are aliens at The Daily Grail. Jeva Lange

7:50 a.m.

In the face of a damning report from The New York Times, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is holding firm.

Zuckerberg told CNN in an interview Tuesday that he has no plans to step down as Facebook chairman, a move some had called for after a recent Times investigation. "That's not the plan," Zuckerberg said, adding that he's "not currently thinking that that makes sense." He also said COO Sheryl Sandberg isn't going anywhere, either, as he's "really proud of the work we've done together" and he hopes "we continue to work together for decades more to come."

This interview comes after The New York Times reported that Facebook was alerted to Russian hacking on its platform in spring 2016, long before sharing this information with the public or with its board of directors and before Zuckerberg publicly dismissed the idea that Facebook played a role in the presidential election. It also alleged that Facebook hired an opposition-research firm to downplay "the impact of the Russians' use of Facebook" and to discredit Facebook critics by linking them to billionaire financier George Soros, an effort spearheaded by Sandberg.

Zuckerberg once again denied knowing about this lobbying until he read the Times article, saying he wasn't "particularly happy about that piece of it" while offering a mild defense by saying that "the intention was never to attack an individual." Despite all of these cascading problems, Zuckerberg also said that Facebook is still "a positive force." Watch the interview below. Brendan Morrow

1:41 a.m.

The Camp Fire swept through Paradise, California, on Nov. 8, becoming the deadliest fire in state history, and now there are questions surrounding the city's decision to narrow the main evacuation route from four lanes to two.

In 2008, a fire ravaged parts of Paradise, destroying 200 homes. There are only four routes out of Paradise, and as everyone in town tried to evacuate, the streets became clogged with cars and thousands were trapped. It took three hours for people to get out of Paradise, and a grand jury later told city officials they needed to create additional evacuation routes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

To protect pedestrians, the city decided in 2014 that Skyway, the main road going through town, should be narrowed from four lanes to two, and records show two other roads also lost lanes. The city was warned that by narrowing the roads, in case of a wildfire or other emergency, it would be hard for people to get out quickly; on Nov. 8, with thousands of people trying to evacuate, some were killed when their cars were engulfed by flames.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jody Jones told the Times the evacuation started at 7:46 a.m and was finished by 3 p.m., and she doesn't think "there's any town in the world prepared with a roadway infrastructure that could evacuate their entire town all at once. They're just not built to do that." At least 81 people were killed in the fire, and nearly 700 remain missing. Catherine Garcia

12:43 a.m.

Over the course of three years, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker received more than $1.2 million working for a charity called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, The Washington Post reports, a conservative nonprofit that does not reveal its donors.

Whitaker started at FACT in 2014, and served as president. The organization says its mission is to expose unethical conduct by public officials, and Whitaker made regular appearances on political TV and radio shows, often criticizing Hillary Clinton and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The New York Times reports that since 2014, FACT has raised nearly $3.5 million, with its largest single expense Whitaker's salary.

The Post analyzed incorporation and tax filings, and found that in 2012, FACT was created under a different name and applied for tax-exempt status by saying the organization would study how environmental regulations impact businesses. A man named in the IRS filings as a board member told the Post this incarnation of FACT "only existed on paper."

A conservative foundation named DonorsTrust, which gives other conservative foundations cover to hide their giving, handed over $1.1 million to FACT between 2014 and 2015, but the source of that donation is unclear, the Times reports. A spokesman for FACT who asked that his name not be used told the Post that as a nonprofit, FACT "does not and is not required to release its donor information." He said the IRS was notified of FACT's name change, but did not respond to questions about whether, as required by IRS rules, FACT notified the agency about how its mission changed. Read more about FACT and its mysterious funding at The Washington Post and The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2018

The January 2019 issue of Glamour will be the magazine's final monthly print edition, Condé Nast announced Tuesday.

Launched in 1939 as Glamour of Hollywood, the magazine will be shifting to an entirely digital presence. Glamour has a print circulation of about two million and an online audience of 20 million, Variety reports. Last year, Condé Nast ended the print editions of Teen Vogue and Self. No layoffs are planned, and the magazine will still print special issues on occasion.

Samantha Barry, the magazine's new editor-in-chief, told staff in a memo that Glamour is "doubling down on digital — investing in the storytelling, service, and fantastic photo shoots we've always been known for, bringing it to the platforms our readers frequent most." Barry came to Glamour in January from CNN Worldwide, where she was executive producer for social and emerging media. Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2018

Taylor Energy Co. has been ordered by the Coast Guard to do something about its damaged oil platform that for the last 14 years has been leaking thousands of gallons a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

The order came on Oct. 23, following The Washington Post's report that the spill was larger than the Interior Department estimated. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan destroyed Taylor Energy's former platform 12 miles off the coast of Louisiana. A Justice Department analysis found that since then, 10,500 to 29,000 gallons of oil a day have leaked into the Gulf. Previously, the government went off of reports by contractors hired by Taylor Energy, which claimed anywhere from 42 to 2,300 gallons leaked per day.

The Coast Guard's order calls for Taylor Energy to "institute a ... system to capture, contain, and remove oil" from the site or pay a daily $40,000 fine for failing to comply, the Post reports. Taylor has plugged nine of the 28 wells at the platform, but argues that because the wells are buried under 100 feet of mud, they can't be the cause of the oil spill. Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2018

Two weeks after Election Day, the final results are in for Utah's 4th Congressional District, with Democrat Ben McAdams defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Mia Love by fewer than 700 votes, The Associated Press projects.

Love is the first and only black female Republican in Congress, and was seeking a third term. About 269,000 votes were cast in the election, and had Love received 20 more votes, under state law she would have been able to request a recount.

A Utah native, McAdams ran as a moderate in the solidly red state. He practiced law in New York before returning to Utah, and was elected to the state legislature in 2008. He now serves as mayor of Salt Lake County. Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2018

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) announced on Tuesday she will not challenge Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the role of speaker of the House and is offering her endorsement.

"I now join my colleagues in support of the leadership team of Pelosi, [Rep. Steny] Hoyer, and [Rep. James] Clyburn," she said in a statement. Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn are the three highest-ranking Democrats.

Fudge said she was concerned about "voter protection and voter integrity," and the Democratic Party "should reflect the diversity of our changing nation and guarantee all our citizens the unfettered right to vote and to have every vote count." Pelosi, she said, has "assured me that the most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic Party, black women, will have a seat at the decision-making table" and "protections of the Voting Rights Act will be reinstated and improved."

Last week, 16 Democrats signed a letter saying they will oppose Pelosi for speaker. So far, no challengers have emerged, with House Democrats set to vote to select a nominee next week. Catherine Garcia

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