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“Storm Area 51” is — maybe — happening tomorrow, so here’s all you need to know ahead of the event; tensions between the US and Iran over the attack against a Saudi oil plant escalate.
Brace for E.T.?
- It all started with a Facebook event, as things do. [Facebook / Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us]
- Three months later, more than 2 million people have RSVP’d as “going” to Area 51 — a highly classified United States Air Force facility — in a remote Nevada desert this Friday, theoretically willing to storm past guards and security in hopes of uncovering the secrets to extraterrestrial life, UFOs, and space conspiracy theories. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
- What probably started as a joke has now attracted visitors from all over the world — from nearby Idaho all the way to Scotland and Australia — with locals worrying about visitors trespassing their property, overwhelming the cell service, or, frankly, arriving unprepared to face the cold nightly temperatures and desert creatures (like snakes and scorpions). [AP / Ken Ritter]
- Both businesses and government officials have taken the pledge seriously. Two rural Nevada counties have drafted emergency declarations, with local police patrolling the nearby area over the three-day event. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued flight restrictions in the air space around Area 51. [Fox News / Travis Fedschun]
- More than one dozen first responder agencies — around 350 medics and EMTs — have also set up camp in Lincoln County, which took $250,000 out of scarce funds to cover costs associated with handling anticipated crowds. [Las Vegas Review-Journal / Mick Akers]
- Of course, no alien-sighting event is complete without an accompanying music festival. Two competing Area-51-focused lineups are taking place the same weekend (starting Thursday night), each hoping to earn the title “Alienstock” and some playing for their biggest crowds yet. [Time / Raisa Brauner]
- If you’re interested in reading more about the myth, the meme and the strange reality of Area 51, head on over to Vox for an explainer on the locale’s history and association with aliens. [Vox / Alex Ward and Aja Romano]
An “act of war”
- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in on last weekend’s drone strikes against Saudi Arabia, calling Iran’s alleged behavior an “act of war,” the strongest yet condemnation of the oil plant attack from an American official. [NBC News / Yuliya Talmazan, Ali Arouzi, Daniel Arkin and Saphora Smith]
- Though Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the strike, the Trump administration has vehemently blamed Iran for the vast decline in the daily global oil supply, with the president tweeting that “we are ... locked and loaded” in case the identity of the culprit matches his suspicions. [AP / Jon Gambrell and Zeke Miller]
- On Wednesday, however, President Trump walked back on his proposed retaliation against the Middle Eastern nation, balacing between “the ultimate option” of a strike against Iran and entering negotiations. He is expected to announce a new set of sanctions in the next two days. [NYT / Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt]
- According to CNN, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has threatened with “all-out war” in the event of US or Saudi military strikes against his country, adding that Iran is willing to talk the dispute out with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. [CNN / Nick Paton Walsh]
- Amid growing protests in Hong Kong against the administration, the Jockey Club and the government have canceled the city’s weekly horse races and the October 1 fireworks, citing fear over the safety of the people and animals. [Reuters / Danny Kwok and Twinnie Siu]
- Thousands in Hawaii were on alert Wednesday night after emergency sirens went off warning for an impending tsunami. Within minutes of the alarm going off, authorities tried to ease the unrest, saying it was a police exercise. [NPR / Scott Neuman]
- One lucky Stephen King fan now has the opportunity of a lifetime: Dish, a US satellite TV company, announced it’s looking for a participant to watch all 13 King book-to-film adaptations in a row and document the experience, earning a cool $1,300 at the end. [Movieweb / Ryan Scott]
- A 19-year-old woman in Lincoln, Nebraska, accidentally set fire to her apartment by burning love letters she had received from her ex. She now has been cited for negligent burning. [AP]
“I hope there is an age limit. ... If I were just 80 years old, if I were 15 years younger, I don’t believe I could undertake the duties that I experienced when I was president.” [Former President Jimmy Carter jokes there should be an age limit to people who can run for president / CNN]
Listen to this: The 51st state?
In Today, Explained’s 400th episode: Residents in the District of Columbia have been living with “taxation without representation” from Day 1. Thursday, they took their call for statehood to Congress. [Spotify | Google Podcasts]