We've got our eyes on Hurricane Michael as it approaches Florida and on Nikki Haley as she departs President Trump's administration.
But first, GEICO might want to consider hiring this gecko that made more than nine phone calls in 15 minutes. 🦎
Here are the headlines.
'You cannot hide from this storm'
Hard-charging Hurricane Michael gained strength Tuesday, reaching Category 3 status as it poises to roar through Florida with historic devastation. The National Hurricane Center warned that the storm could make landfall Wednesday afternoon with torrential rains and sustained winds of up to 120 mph. The hurricane could be one of the worst storms on record to hit the Florida Panhandle, and it's headed for one of the state's poorest and most vulnerable regions. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 counties and evacuations in 10 counties. "Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades," Scott said.
What else? Flight cancellations have begun to mount as the hurricane approaches shore. U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage at these locations, and the Florida's sheriff's office has issued a joke "trespass warning" for The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore. Michael has also brought with it a recurring campaign election fight: extending voter registration deadlines for those affected by storms.
Nikki Haley is leaving, but she's not 'running'
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley turned in her resignation notice Tuesday. Haley announced her decision during a hastily scheduled meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office and said she planned to leave by the end of the year. Widely considered a possible candidate for higher office, Haley dismissed talk of a presidential campaign: "No, I am not running in 2020." While Haley and Trump have had friction in the past — she publicly aired her differences with the president over his support for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore — Trump praised her work after her announcement. "She’s done a fantastic job and we’ve done a fantastic job together."
Speaking of politics, football trumps it
Here's an interesting question: Did Trump's attacks on player protests hurt NFL ratings? We looked at the numbers and found some evidence of a Trump effect, but it was, at best, weak. What really stuck out was that people stuck with football if there was a "football reason" to watch. The data show that quality football and home team loyalty drove the TV audience far more than political tribalism. "In other words, it’s football that drives NFL ratings, not faux outrage," writes sports columnist Nancy Armour.
A strange update on the fatal limo crash in New York
The aging limousine that crashed Saturday in New York, killing 20 people, was operated by a company with a record of failed inspections – and an owner who was a controversial FBI informant. Prestige Limousine is owned by Shahed Hussain, who emigrated from Pakistan in the 1990s, fleeing a murder charge that he said was trumped up. He worked as a translator for the New York Department of Motor Vehicles but was accused of helping people cheat on DMV exams in exchange for money. Hussain pleaded guilty but avoided prison and deportation by becoming an informant, working in Muslim communities to find people with radical tendencies. So what of Hussain now? Well, he's in Pakistan, authorities said. Asked whether he's under criminal investigation, New York State Police Major Robert Patnaude said anyone found to be criminally culpable will be "held accountable."
The Short List is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. This week, it's brought to you by editors Mary Nahorniak and Teresa Lo.