Theater Bankruptcy, Islamic State ‘Beatle,’ and Sleepy Pilots 1440 Weekend Edition

Good morning. It's Saturday, Aug. 20, and in this weekend edition, we're covering a potential bankruptcy for the world's second biggest theater chain, the life sentence of an Islamic State fighter, and much more. Have feedback? We'd love to hear it. Let us know at [email protected]

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Regal Cinemas Owner Eyes Bankruptcy 

Cineworld Group PLC, the world's second biggest theater chain and the owner of Regal Cinemas, is preparing to file for bankruptcy after struggling to rebuild its audience. The British entertainment conglomerate, which reopened theaters last year, said attendance has lagged due to a lack of blockbuster films and will likely persist through November, potentially complicating efforts to cut its debt. 


Cineworld operates 751 sites in 10 countries, including more than 500 Regal Cinemas theaters in the US. It saw about 95 million moviegoers in 2021, compared to the 275 million in 2019. Earlier this year, the company said it was looking for new sources of liquidity, as it faces payment obligations to former Regal shareholders and a multimillion-dollar dispute over its failed acquisition of Canada's Cineplex. Cineworld had net debt of $8.9B at the end of 2021 and revenues of $1.8B.


Total box office ticket sales in the US have been down roughly 30%, compared to prepandemic levels (see comparison), partly due to some production companies choosing to directly release to streaming platforms. 


Cineworld's London-listed shares were down 58% at close Friday. 



Islamic State 'Beatle' sentenced to life in prison for US hostage deaths.

British Islamic State fighter El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, was convicted for his role in the death of four Americans—James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller—as part of a hostage situation nearly a decade ago. Elsheikh was part of a British-national cell, known as "the Beatles," which was known to have taken part in atrocities during the Syrian civil war. 


Michigan court temporarily blocks state's 1931 pre-Roe abortion ban. 

The 1931 law bans abortion procedures unless it is necessary to save the mother's life. The judge ruled county prosecutors can't enforce the law, granting Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's request for a preliminary injunction. The judge said not issuing an injunction would harm the public, contending the people of Michigan should decide the matter at the ballot box if it appears on the Nov. 8 ballot.


Spain wildfire enters fifth day as Portugal announces nationwide alert.

Efforts to control a wildfire in Spain's eastern province of Valencia have failed so far as strong winds exacerbate the blaze, which has so far scorched more than 47,000 acres of land along an 85-mile-long perimeter. In neighboring Portugal, which is experiencing its own drought, a nationwide three-day state of alert begins Sunday. 


China sentences billionaire Xiao Jianhua to prison for financial crimes.

Jianhua, one of China's richest people, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for embezzlement and bribery. His asset management company, Tomorrow Holdings, has also been fined $8.1B. The sentencing comes more than five years after the business tycoon was allegedly abducted from a Hong Kong hotel and taken to mainland China. 


NASA's Voyager 2 celebrates 45 years of exploring space.

Despite its name, Voyager 2 was launched before Voyager 1 on Aug. 20, 1977, with Voyager 1 following suit Sept. 5. The pair have visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune during their time in the solar system and became the first human-made objects to leave the heliosphere and enter interstellar space (see 101). 

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Strangers rally to help Uvalde students and teachers return to school. (More)


Chicago toddler with rare condition takes first steps with prosthetic leg. (More)


A 99-year-old Pennsylvania woman meets her 100th great-grandchild. (More)


California hospital technician brightens children's casts with colorful art. (More


Georgia high school football players rescue trapped woman from car crash. (More


Two teens tackle elderly loneliness with heartfelt handwritten letters. (More)


New Zealand man teaches his parents how to play instruments, forms a band. (More)

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Today, we're sharing a story from reader Sharon L. in Portland, Oregon.


"My 8-year-old granddaughter had set up a stand on her street corner to have an ‘art sale’ from her drawings and painted rocks. She made $50! The next day I was telling her mama about the latest on selling our little rental home, inspections on the plumbing, mold, roof, etc. This sweet 8-year-old leaned into her mama and whispered that she wanted to give grandma $5 to help with the house repairs. She gets it … helping friends and family in their time of need is exactly what we need more of in this world!"


What act(s) of kindness did you experience this week? Tell us.




> Online furniture retailer Wayfair is cutting 870 jobs, or 5% of its global workforce.
> Two pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines plane fell asleep at 37,000 feet, overflew a runway, and triggered an alarm



Visualizing the world's biggest military spenders.

> See the winners of the 2022 World Sports Photography Awards.

> Spend a night in an 80s Pabst Blue Ribbon-themed motel.



> Gut feeling: How tweaking your gut microbes can change your mind.


> Saying goodbye to Tokyo's tiniest shop

Bill Nye the Science Guy breaks down James Webb telescope images.

> An epidemiologist answers common questions about monkeypox.

Ambidextrous artist paints six portraits upside down with her hands and feet.


Long Read 

> Why do animals have tails?

> Exploring medieval medicine.

> The world's ancient toys are puzzling archaeologists.


Best of the Week:  Ranking America's best states to call home (in 2022). 

Historybook: First around-the-world telegram sent (1911); "Valley of the Dolls" author Jacqueline Susann is born (1918); Actress Amy Adams born (1974); NASA launches Viking 1 probe toward Mars (1975); Comedian Jerry Lewis dies (2017).


"Everyone has an identity. One of their own, and one for show."

- Jacqueline Susann, from "Valley of the Dolls"

Why 1440? The printing press was invented in the year 1440, spreading knowledge to the masses and changing the course of history. Guess what else? There are 1,440 minutes in a day and every one is precious. That’s why we scour hundreds of sources every day to provide a concise, comprehensive, and objective view of what's happening in the world. Reader feedback is a gift—shoot us a note at [email protected].

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