October 17, 2021

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Will he stay or will he go?

The polls are open in California’s recall race. Will Gov. Gavin Newsom keep his job? The Deep South is facing a huge threat of flooding from Tropical Storm Nicholas. And Apple has unveiled its newest crop of gadgets.

👋 Hey, hey. It’s Laura, it’s Tuesday and I’ve got a whole bunch of news for you. Let’s get to it!

But first, it’s no bull! 🐮 So, here’s the deal: Cows produce a lot of waste. But, as it turns out, they can be potty-trained to use the ‘MooLoo,’ and it could actually be a big help to the environment.

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Polls open in California recall

Tuesday is decision day in California, and voters from the country’s most populous state will get the chance to decide whether they will keep Gov. Gavin Newsom or recall him. Regardless of the result, the election itself is both rare and historic: Only twice in U.S. history has a governor been removed from office via recall; in North Dakota in 1921; and in California in 2003, when Gray Davis was removed and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s been a winding path to get here, but polls have suggested the Democrat is likely to keep his job. Democrats had returned a larger share of those ballots than Republicans, meaning early results could show good signs for Newsom. But that might not last, and the number of voters who turn out Tuesday will likely be crucial in deciding the race. The first polls in the state close at 8 p.m. PDT.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and his wife First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom mark their ballots at a voting center in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and his wife First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom mark their ballots at a voting center in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.

Deep South facing flash floods as Nicholas slams Texas coast

Hurricane Nicholas whipped across the Texas coast early Tuesday, crashing onto land along the Matagorda Peninsula with torrential rains and storm surge and threatening to envelop much of the Deep South in flooding. The storm’s winds eased slightly as it crossed land, and Nicholas was downgraded to a tropical storm Tuesday morning with sustained winds of 45 mph. More than 510,000 Texas homes and businesses were without power Tuesday morning, most in and around the Houston metropolitan area. Almost 100,000 more were in the dark in Louisiana, although the vast majority of that outage was a remnant of Hurricane Ida’s devastation two weeks ago. Nicholas is expected to produce additional rainfall of 5 to 20 inches from the upper Texas coastal area into central to southern Louisiana, far southern Mississippi and far southern Alabama. Galveston already reported 14 inches of rain; parts of Houston had more than 6 inches.

A Dairy Queen in Bay City, Texas, stays open as customers try to get in a meal before it closes as Hurricane Nicholas approaches late Monday.

A Dairy Queen in Bay City, Texas, stays open as customers try to get in a meal before it closes as Hurricane Nicholas approaches late Monday.

What everyone’s talking about

Blinken grilled by Senate over Afghanistan withdrawal

A top Senate Democrat on Tuesday blasted the Biden administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as “fatally flawed” and threatened to subpoena Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin if he doesn’t agree to testify “in the near future.” The sharp rebuke from Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken faced a second day of intense questioning by lawmakers furious over the chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan. “The execution of the U.S. withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed,” said Menendez, D-N.J. “This committee expects to receive a full explanation of the administration’s decisions on Afghanistan since coming into office last January.” Republicans called Biden’s handling of the withdrawal an epic military and foreign policy disaster, even some of those who previously supported the decision to end the war. Blinken strongly defended President Joe Biden’s decision to end America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan and the administration’s handling of the evacuation. He said no one in the U.S. government predicted the Afghan security forces would surrender to the Taliban so quickly, a surprise development that paved the way for the militant Islamic group to take over the country within days.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Tuesday,  Sept. 14, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration's handling of the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration’s handling of the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan.

Georgia prisons under DOJ investigation after 44 inmates killed, LGBT assaults

The Justice Department on Tuesday launched a sweeping investigation into the Georgia state prison system plagued by extreme staffing shortages and a culture of violence and neglect in which at least 44 inmates have died by homicide since last year. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, chief of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, said the inquiry was sparked by alarming reports of prisoner-on-prisoner attacks, along with prisoner and staff assaults on gay, lesbian and transgender inmates. Earlier this month, the Georgia detention system was named in a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging “abysmal” conditions inside solitary confinement wings that have “deteriorated past the point of constitutional crisis.” The Georgia Department of Corrections denied claims that the agency was engaged in a “pattern or practice” of misconduct and neglect, asserting that officials were “committed to the safety of all of the offenders in its custody.”

Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, says the Biden administration needs to undo “extensive damage” in enforcing civil rights laws.

Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, says the Biden administration needs to undo “extensive damage” in enforcing civil rights laws.

Real quick

Apple announces its newest gadgets

Apple fans finally got their first look at iPhone 13. On Tuesday, Apple introduced the next version of its popular smartphone, one of several device announcements made during a virtual event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Among the other devices unveiled Tuesday: a revamped budget iPad, an updated version of its iPad Mini, and the new Apple Watch Series 7 with a bigger display. Apple typically launches its next iPhone the same month as its Apple event, so expect the upcoming smartphone to hit stores by the end of the month. So how’s the battery life? And the camera? We’ve got the details here.

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max models have what Apple calls its best camera system ever on an iPhone. With new Wide, Ultra Wide and Telephoto lenses for better low-light images and macrophotography.

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max models have what Apple calls its best camera system ever on an iPhone. With new Wide, Ultra Wide and Telephoto lenses for better low-light images and macrophotography.

A break from the news

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gov. Gavin Newsom recall, Tropical Storm Nicholas, Afghanistan, Apple’s iPhone 13. It’s Tuesday’s news.

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