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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

When you fly, the difference between life and death is a matter of inches

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When you fly, the difference between life and death is a matter of inches
The window that was shattered after a jet engine of

Sometimes even heroes aren't enough

At 33,000 feet, the air pressure inside and outside a plane's cabin differs so greatly that if something pierces the seal the "tremendous force" could suck out a seat with a passenger still buckled in, said flight research expert Richard Anderson. The opening created on Southwest Flight 1380 Tuesday was big enough for half of Jennifer Riordon's body to be pulled outside. A cowboy and a firefighter helped pull her back in, a retired nurse performed CPR, and the pilot with "nerves of steel" Tammie Jo Shults made an emergency landing 22 minutes after the engine blew — but it wasn't enough. The Wells Fargo executive, wife and mother of two died from her injuries. Federal investigators are focusing on a metal fan blade in the engine.

Puerto Rico is without power. Again.

Yet another setback strikes Puerto Rico more than six months after Hurricane Maria ravaged the region and destroyed its power grid. On Wednesday, a faulty transmission line caused an island-wide blackout , and it could take up to 36 hours to restore power. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said the San Juan airport, hospitals and banks will get priority before power is back on in homes and businesses. Meanwhile, a new hurricane season starts in June and is forecast to be harsh. Again.

This hasn't happened in Cuba for nearly 60 years

On Thursday, Cuba is expected to formally hand over power to Miguel Díaz-Canel, a relative unknown in the Communist Party whose rise to power is notable because it will be the first time in nearly 60 years that Cuba will be led by someone not named Castro . What do we know about Díaz-Canel? The 57-year-old once worked as an engineering professor and in 2013 was named first vice president, placing him in direct succession to President Raúl Castro.

Instead of the Earth choking on plastic, what if something could eat it?

United Kingdom scientists just created a super enzyme that "digests" polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, the main ingredient in most plastic bottles. A research team accidentally engineered it while studying a similar natural enzyme. More research is needed to determine how the enzyme could impact the future of recycling — and maybe help shrink that garbage island twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean. In other environmental news:

The Trump administration says it wants to build more solar and wind farms in California, but environmentalists aren't buying it
California has eight of the 10 most polluted U.S. cities
The East-West, humid-dry climate boundary has shifted 140 miles due to global warming

Barbara Bush: 1925-2018

It started at a Christmas dance in 1941. It ended with him holding her hand on her final day. That's the 76-year love story of George and Barbara Bush. The matriarch of an American political dynasty died Tuesday at the age of 92. While not everyone agreed with her — a professor called her an " amazing racist," others criticized what she said leading up to her son George W. Bush's war in Iraq — many remember her warmly as "someone you felt like you could just hug." First lady  Melania Trump will attend Bush's funeral Saturday.

The Short List is a compilation of stories from across USA TODAY.

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