10 things that happened while you were laser-focused on Irma

Hurricane Irma lashes palm trees lae Sunday at the Tampa Premium Outlets, 2300 Grand Cypress Drive in Lutz. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times.]
Hurricane Irma lashes palm trees lae Sunday at the Tampa Premium Outlets, 2300 Grand Cypress Drive in Lutz. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times.]
Published September 13 2017
Updated September 13 2017

You've been busy, Florida. Awfully busy.

Hanging plywood, stocking up on stuff to eat, texting worried relatives, posting fears on Facebook, following every twist of Hurricane Irma's eyewall, trying to get your power and cable working again.

So here are some things you may have missed over the last few days:


Hurricane Irma blasted through most of Florida on Sept. 11, so it was easy to miss the nation's annual commemoration of the 2001 terrorist attacks. It's been 16 years. There were tributes at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and the Flight 93 memorial near Shanksville, Pa. "What I can say today is that I don't live my life in complacency," said Debra Epps, whose brother died in the attack at Ground Zero. "I stand in solidarity that this world will make a change for the better." Also that day, the internet reacted after a Fox & Friends host asked a guest, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, if he thought that 9/11 memorials would someday be removed like Confederate memorials.

Texas mass shooting

In Plano, 32-year-old Spencer James Hight burst into a cookout at the home of his estranged wife, Meredith Emily Hight, and shot her, along with seven others in one of North Texas' worst mass shootings in recent memory. The gunman was killed by an officer who responded to the scene. The couple's sixth wedding anniversary would have been Monday, Sept. 11.

Behold the iPhone X

On Tuesday as millions woke to a second night without air conditioning, Apple unveiled its new iPhone X and said it would sell for $999, double what the original iPhone cost a decade ago and more than any other competing device on the market. One review said this: "Apple has made a luxury iPhone that punctuates its technological swagger with a high-priced exclamation point. And that exclamation point appears to be a sign of things to come."

Kim and Kanye expecting

People magazine, citing sources, reported Sept. 6 that a surrogate hired by Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, is pregnant. "The entire family is over the moon. Kim had been looking for a surrogate for months until recently when she found the perfect candidate," a source told People. Kardashian West, 36, and West, 40, were married in May 2014. Son Saint is 21 months old, while daughter North turned 4 in June.

Dali a dad? No

Remember Pila Abel, the 61-year-old tarot card reader who claimed her mother had an affair with Salvador Dali? A Spanish judge ruled back in June that the body of the surrealist artist be exhumed to determine whether Abel was Dali's child. While you were dealing with Irma, Dali's foundation announced that a DNA test proved Abel has "no biological relationship" with the painter.

Household income up

The median income for American households rose 3.2 percent last year, to $59,039, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. But if that seemed like good news, it was also a stark reminder of the damage done by the Great Recession and the modest recovery that followed. It was the first time since 1999 that median income rose above $58,665.

Gainesville cops, looking good

A group selfie from some Gainesville, Fla., police officers has caused a social media stir, prompting some Facebook users to inquire about their marital status. Some have asked to be arrested. The photo was posted on their department's Facebook page as Irma lashed the state Sunday. The caption said the officers were "getting ready to do some work," but the post produced more than 100,000 comments praising the officers' good looks. One woman posted: "How long does it take to get from NW Arkansas to Gainesville Florida? Asking for a friend." The department issued an update asking people not to call 911 to "request this group respond to your 'incident.'"

ESPN and Donald Trump

In a series of exchanges on Twitter Monday night, Jemele Hill, an African-American co-host of the 6 p.m. broadcast of ESPN's SportsCenter, called President Donald Trump "a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists." She added: "Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period." The network distanced itself from the messages, saying "We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate."

Baseball's ups and downs

The Tampa Bay Rays were unable to gain ground in their bid to make the playoffs after spending the hurricane in Boston and New York. The Los Angeles Dodgers, after playing lights-out all season, extended their losing streak to 11 games, then finally won a game Tuesday. And the Cleveland Indians mounted a winning streak that stands at an American League-record 20 games. They'll try to make it 21 tonight.

White nationalists in Florida

Last week, as the University of Florida prepared for Irma, white nationalist Richard Spencer made another request to speak on campus. The potential date is Thursday, Oct. 19. Spencer and his National Policy Institute initially tried to rent space for Sept. 12, but UF denied that request in the days after racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va.

This report includes information from Associated Press, the Dallas Morning News and People magazine, the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio. Contact Thomas C. Tobin at [email protected] Follow @ThomasCTobin.