As Hurricane Irma heads towards the Bahamas, updated forecasts predict it will make landfall in the US late Saturday or early Sunday morning in Southern Florida. The powerful storm ripped through the Caribbean, killing 14 and - despite it only skirting the island - leaving 1 million without power in Puerto Rico. The storm was downgraded to a Category 4 early Friday though wind speeds are still expected to hit at least 155 mph when it reaches Miami, with the latest models showing the storm downgrading to a Category 2 as it moves through central Florida before veering west and stalling out over eastern Tennessee. Officials issued mandatory evacuations in Brevard, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties - affecting more than 700,000 people and causing massive traffic jams. Analysts estimate that a worst case scenario could cause $125-130B in damages, equivalent to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

Announced it will begin evaluating locations for a second headquarters, potentially just as big as its original campus in Seattle, WA. Amazon - whose $470B market cap is more than most brick-and-mortar retailers combined - is seeking bids from cities, forcing competition for the estimated $5B in development and 50,000 new jobs associated with the new facility. The current Seattle HQ spans 8.1 million square feet across 33 buildings and has generated over $38 billion for the local economy since 2010. The company said it would prioritize metropolitan areas under one hour from an international airport and close to a university system - with cities like Dallas, Toronto, Miami, and St. Louis immediately committed to submitting bids. Amazon made waves when it moved into its Seattle headquarters - which includes a 500 foot tower with soon-to-be-open 100 foot glass orbs, dubbed biospheres.

The NFL kicks off in full this weekend, following the stunning loss in last night's opener by reigning champion New England to the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-27. A number of intriguing storylines will begin to unfold starting Sunday - including whether the Atlanta Falcons can recover from a historic collapse against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Even if Atlanta can shake off the mental weight of surrendering a 28-3 lead in the second half, history is not on their side - no losing team has made it back to the Super Bowl since 1994. On the other end of the win-loss column, Cam Newton (6-10 in 2016) and Andrew Luck (8-8, and who will sit out Week 1 after offseason shoulder surgery) look to bounce back from subpar campaigns, while Jared Goff - the top draft pick in 2016 - exits his first year honeymoon with the LA Rams. Before the last night's loss, the Patriots were the favorites to win Super Bowl LII (13/4 odds), followed by the Seahawks (8/1), Packers (10/1), and Steelers (10/1). 

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Science & Technology.

Alphabet X spin-off Dandelion finds local partner, ready to launch geothermal heat pumps for homes (More) | See potential of geothermal here (More
New quantum computing design operates over long distances, can be scaled (More)
John Deere acquires AI company for $305M to help identify, kill weeds (More)

Business & Markets.

Equifax hacked, exposed personal info of 143M customers; slock slides 13% in after hours (More)
Comcast & Disney stocks slide ~5%, as customers continue to ditch cable for streaming (More)
Grubhub vs. Lawson trial opens - are gig economy workers 1099 or W2? (More)

Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

Professional Racecar Driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. tapped as new star of The Bachelor (More)
Patriots owner Bob Kraft, others pump money into eSports League (More) | New arena to open in CA dedicated solely to video games (More)
Sloane Stephens upsets Venus Williams, will face Madison Keys in US Open final (More)

Politics & World Affairs.

Sen. Murphy (D-CT) readies stealth single payer, would let individuals and business buy into Medicare via Obamacare exchanges (More)
Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos to replace Obama-era rules on campus sexual assault (More)
8.2 magnitude earthquake hits Mexico, tsunami warning issued (More)

How the NBA Failed Royce White. 

Long Reads | Sam Riches. In his only season at the school, Royce White led Iowa State in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, and blocks, eliciting comparisons to NBA greats like Charles Barkley and Kevin McHale. White also has diagnosed anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and in the absence of adequate mental health infrastructure in the NBA, White is now putting up triple doubles in Canada. (Read)

Inside the Black Market of Instagram Verification. 

Mashable | Kerry Flynn. You've seen the blue check marks on social media - so comforting - signaling a person is who they say they are. Originally a tool to legitimize accounts, a lucrative black market has sprung up for the employees who vet accounts. Want to be credentialed quickly? On Instagram it could cost you up to $15,000. (Read)

50 Ideas Blowing Up American Politics. 

Politico | Politico Staff. Click on the faces to see the ideas - and the people behind the ideas - underneath the emerging trends in American politics for 2017. If you recognize all 50 faces before clicking its probably time to get outside the beltway for a bit. (Read)

How Houston’s Growth Created the Perfect Flood Conditions.

New York Times | Vikas Baja, Jessia Ma, Stuart Thompson. Crappy flood maps, poor planning, reduction in natural flood defenses, and more - it all added up to a woefully unpreared urban infrastructure when Harvey hit. Behind the Times paywall, feel free to burn one of your ten free monthly articles here. (Read)

Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn’t Like - I Know Because It Happened to Me . 

Gizmodo | Kashmir Hill. Similar in ways to the Instagram story above, one woman recounts her experience when she accused Google of burying websites that didn't use the company's +1 social sharing button. Hint: It didn't end well. (Read
Gloria Carter discusses coming out on Jay-Z's 4:44 album.

Photos: A beautiful gallery of life in Chicago during WWII. 

Flamingos in the Loo: How zoos handle hurricanes.

Democracy in Action: African wild dogs vote to achieve consensus - by sneezing.

Nautical maps from the 18th century reveal startling coral reef loss off Florida Keys.

Siri for Sports: This app reads you stats in your favorite player's voice.

Martin Shkreli is selling his $2 million Wu-Tang album on eBay.

Ugh Rapping Millennials: Complex's Top 20 rappers in their 20's

Photos: Insect gastronomy in Bangkok. 

Video: Teen sets new Rubik’s Cube world record.

Historybook: Election of Theodoric, the one-year Antipope (1100);
Michelangelo unveils the David in Florence (1504); Pledge of Allegiance first recited (1892); Galveston Hurricane kills 8,000 (1900); Huey 'Kingfish' Long shot, dies two days later (1935); Siege of Leningrad begins (1941); Happy Birthday, Patsy Cline! (1932); Ford grants unconditional pardon to Nixon (1974); Oprah Winfrey show goes national (1986); McGwire breaks Roger Maris' home run record (1998).
-Huey "Kingfish" Long
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