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Thunderstorm asthma leads to deaths in Australia

A change in weather and a storm have led to at least eight deaths in Melbourne, Australia, due to what is called thunderstorm asthma.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said last week's thunderstorm event left one person in critical condition in addition to the eight dead, Australia's ABC News reported.

>> Read more trending stories

The Health and Human Services Department said thunderstorms have been linked to asthma because humidity causes pollen to break up into small particles that can be inhaled and affect breathing. It typically happens from October to December, which is hay fever season in the country.

The department, which is calling the storm a "tragic and unforeseen event," issued an updated health advisory Tuesday. The update said that anyone with a history of allergies, asthma or hay fever have an increased risk, although anyone may have asthma symptoms during an asthma thunderstorm event.

Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.

"Those storm cells pick up all that pollen and dump it in Melbourne," Dr. Lorraine Baker, of the Australian Medical Association in Victoria, told The New York Times. "If you are sensitive to ryegrass, which is a very common allergy, it’s like having a whole immune challenge thrown directly into your face. Your airways start to close."

7 things to know now: Soccer team killed in crash; Trump, Romney to meet; OSU attack

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Plane crash in Columbia: A chartered plane carrying the Brazilian soccer team crashed overnight, killing at least 76 of the 81 people on board, according to authorities. The team was headed to Medellin, Columbia, from Bolivia when the plane’s pilots declared an emergency around 10 p.m. Monday. There were reports of bad weather in the area where the plane went down.

2. Fire in Tennessee: Strong winds are pushing a fire in the Great Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee. Because of the fast moving flames, officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation for the 4,000 residents of the tourist town of Gatlinburg, something unprecedented in the town’s history.

3. Trump, Romeny to meet: President-elect Donald Trump is set to meet with Mitt Romney again on Tuesday as he continues to work to fill his cabinet. Romney is being considered for secretary of state. Georgia Rep. Tom Price will be named secretary of Health and Human Services, according to those familiar with the dealings of the transition process. Trump learned on Monday that Michigan officials certified the results of the state’s election and declared him the winner of its 13 electoral votes. Green Party candidate Jill Stein is expected to call for a recount of those votes Tuesday.

4. Three dead after dinner: Health officials are working to determine if a Thanksgiving dinner served by a church in California was the reason three people died and five others became seriously ill. The meal was prepared for the elderly and homeless in Antioch, Calif., last week. Officials say those who became ill following the meal also lived in the same facility, and that they are not certain it was the food that caused the illness. More than 800 people attended the event.

5. Was OSU attack terror: Investigators say they are looking into whether the Ohio State University student who injured 11 people on Monday had any ties to terror groups. Somali-born Abdul Razak Ali Artan was killed by a police officer after he drove his car into a crowd of people on the OSU campus then began attacking them with a knife. A motive for the attack was not immediately known, officials said.

And one more

You may not realize it, but today is #Giving Tuesday. The aim of the movement is to encourage people to donate time or money to others during the holiday season, according to organizers. The movement started in 2012.

In case you missed it

Just when you feel significant.

Brazilian soccer team in Colombia plane crash: 5 things to know

A Brazilian soccer team was on board a chartered plane that crashed late Monday in Colombia, killing dozens, The Associated Press reports.

The head of the Colombian Civil Aviation Authority told G1 on Tuesday that two black boxes have been recovered from the scene of the crash. Officials hope the flight recorder will shed more light on the moments leading up to the crash.

Here's what we know so far:

>> Click here or scroll down to learn more

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Skating rink with fish frozen in ice forced to close after uproar

As skating rinks open for business in the U.S., an ice skating location in Japan has shut down temporarily after word got out that the owners froze dead fish into the ice.

Social media users were up in arms after the Space World amusement park posted photos on its Facebook page that showed fish, shellfish and crabs frozen in different designs embedded in ice, CNN reported.

The rink opened two weeks ago with the fish that were bought from a fish market in the area. The animals were already dead when purchased.

>> Read more trending stories  

According to Sky News, the fish was unfit to be sold.

The park had included about 5,000 fish in the display, The Guardian reported.

Some of the fish were used to spell the word hello and were used to make an arrow to point skaters which way to skate.

Another school of fish was embedded in ice "swimming" around a post, The Guardian reported.

The park's manager apologized and said he was shocked that there was outrage, CNN reported

Some questioned if children would enjoy skating over the fish and accused the park's owners of having no soul.

The ice rink also used printed images of sharks and rays under the ice, The Guardian reported.

The rink's operators said a memorial service for the fish will be held and they will be used as fertilizer, CNN reported.

7 things to know now: Midwest recount; Cyber Monday; self-lacing shoes; Castro funeral

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Recounting votes: President-elect Donald Trump joined in on the conversation about voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election Sunday when he tweeted about the call by Green Party candidate Jill Stein for a recount of votes in three Midwestern states. Trump also took a swipe at Hillary Clinton’s campaign on the news it had joined Stein’s efforts in the recount. "I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. Later he tweeted that there had been "serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California."  

2. Concentration camp routine: The wife of the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has caused a stir in Russia by performing an ice skating routine while dressed as a Nazi concentration camp prisoner. Tatiana Navka, a former Olympic ice dancer, and her partner both wore striped uniforms with a yellow six-pointed star on the chest. The routine, they said, was based on the movie “Life is Beautiful,” about a man in a concentration camp who pretends for the sake of his son that their internment is a game.

3. Castro funeral: The island nation of Cuba will prepare for the funeral of Fidel Castro this week. Castro, who led the revolution to overthrow the Cuban government in 1959, ruled the country for nearly 50 years before turning over power to his brother, Raul in 2008. Castro’s funeral will be held Sunday.

4. Self-lacing technology: If tying your shoes has become a chore and you are one of a small number of Nike app users, the future has arrived for you today. Nike is releasing the self-lacing shoe Monday for purchase by some select customers. Inspired by the shoes seen in the movie “Back to the Future II,” the pair will lace and unlace themselves by pressing a button, according to Nike. The price for the footwear of the future? A cool $720 when they hit select stores for the rest of us on Wednesday.

5. Hall facing charges: According to some media reports, actor Anthony Michael Hall has been arrested on felony battery charges stemming from a fight with a neighbor that happened in September. The man is said to have suffered a broken wrist and a back injury after Hall allegedly threw him to the ground.

And one more

While self-lacing shoes may not be on most Christmas lists, computers, TVs, tech gifts and toys sure are as millions take to their electronic devices to shop on Cyber Monday. On what is traditionally the busiest online shopping day of the year, retailers are looking to expand their holiday profits with discounts on everything from Apple products to laptops to gaming devices. According to Adobe Digital Insights, retailers hope consumers will add to the $3.34 billion spent shopping online on Black Friday.

In case you missed it

Here are a few things you may not have known about iPhones.

Life in the time of Fidel was about waiting – and death

Editor's note: This first-person account was written by Liz Balmaseda of The Palm Beach Post.

MIAMI – The city where my family’s exile story began and ended erupted Friday in a clamoring of pots and pans over the death of Fidel Castro.

But to my ears, the ruckus in Miami rang hollow. The pots and pans triggered a memory 33 years old: the sight of a Champagne bottle tucked into the back of my aunt’s refrigerator in her Havana kitchen, ready “for when he falls.”

That was the catch phrase that for decades drifted across the Florida Straits, even in the most frigid of Cold War years between Cuba and the United States. Everyone had a plan “for when he falls.”

There would be a roast suckling pig when he falls. There would be carnivals when he falls. Fear and hyphens would vaporize when he falls.

>> Miami Marlins had several links to Fidel Castro, Cuba

But always another decade or two would grind by. And actual deaths happened, so many of them.

March 8, 1983. My grandmother died. She was cooking a small pot of rice and beans when a searing headache knocked her off her feet in her kitchen.

July 4, 2002. My grandfather died. He had spent decades in exile, tracing the unpaved roads of our native Puerto Padre in memories so vivid they seemed only days old.

Sept. 15, 2006. My mother died. She was just 24 when she came to this country. She worked factory jobs to help support three children. It was in exile that she learned to cook Cuban. She raised us on meals so divine we never realized we had no money.

>> Read more trending stories

April 2, 2014. My father died and with him died the final bit of my personal Cuba.

They died in Miami, without returning to the island. Their belongings contained no selfies in Havana, no happy-native souvenirs, no poses next to those distressed, old-city backdrops that populate Instagram. Cuba coursed through their veins. It accented their conversations and spiced up their skillets.

Until, one by one, time silenced each voice, each stove, each home.

Yet, stunningly, there was always Fidel. He was vicious, the executor of thousands, the warden of many more. He blustered, inflicting his mania on the population. As he amassed wealth, homes, and vehicles, Cuba seemed stuck in perennial failure-to-launch mode.

>> Fidel Castro dies: Music, dancing, parades fill Miami streets

Deep into his fourth decade of rule, an ailing Castro yielded power to his brother, Raul, and a new era began in Cuba. But even as Fidel faded away, the island continued to churn in his shadow. Was he alive? Was he dead? The topic alone filled many a demitasse at the takeout windows of Calle Ocho in Miami.

Meantime, actual deaths happened, so many of them.

Then again, life in the time of Fidel was never really about life. It was about waiting and death. Yes, we lived, we loved, we grew. But as it related to Fidel, life didn’t hold a candle to death.

Life in the time of Fidel was about isolation, the beliefs that seemed to separate our exile families from the rest of Earth, the beliefs that made us feel as if we hailed from outer space instead of from the Greater Antilles.

>> Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dead at 90

To much of the world, Fidel Castro Ruz was a savior who lifted his poor, illiterate masses to “developing world” status. But what that world didn’t see or appreciate was the human toll, the political opponents who filled the prisons and firing squad lines, the arbitrary laws and trappings of a one-party system.

Leaving the country was/is a crime. Not supporting the regime equates the crime of “dangerousness.” Neighborhood watch committees turned residential blocks into spy networks. Opting out of Communism was a punishable offense. At one time, listening to American jazz could land you in jail. Dare to think differently and you can kiss your job, your home, your family, your future goodbye. Yes, medical schools turned out brilliant doctors, but where was the medication? The regime blamed the embargo – for everything.

>> Fidel Castro dies: Exiles recall pain with sorrow, freedom with joy

But my family, like many who had settled in Miami, knew Castro was no hero. He was no “president.” He was a dictator. He was a racist. Doubt that? Take a glance at the most punished dissidents of the last few decades – most of them are black. For all the lip service Castro paid to those discriminated in South Africa during Apartheid, he brought no meaningful civil rights movement to his own country.

He was a homophobe. Doubt that? Look up “UMAP.” Many of Cuba’s gay men, along with others deemed “anti-social,” were sent to a series of forced labor camps dubbed the Military Units to Aid Production.

Castro was a fear-monger, cranking up conspiracies to remain relevant. Listen to any of his multi-hour speeches and ask yourself: Why should anyone hold a microphone for that long, much less hold power for that long?

>> Fidel Castro dies: Florida leaders hope Cuba knows more freedom

So much has happened in the jagged course of exile, as Cuba opens and shuts and opens. In most recent years, as relations between the two nations warmed during the Obama Administration’s second term, Cuba became nearly as accessible to many as Epcot. This doesn’t mean what happened in the island’s dim prison cells didn’t happen. It just means we grew tired of waiting.

As I grieve my loved ones, it helps me to think of Cuba in this way: It’s an island, just an island. The rest of it recedes into the background and it all feels rather muted. Perhaps this is why not even the clanging of pots in the Miami streets registers as noise. It’s as silent as the cork on that old Champagne bottle in my aunt’s refrigerator.

I don’t know what ever became of it. My aunt died in the early 1990s without ever opening it.

>> World reacts to death of Fidel Castro

Then again, I’m sure it has turned to vinegar by now. Time is not kind to Champagne or to dictators.

Miami Marlins had several links to Fidel Castro, Cuba

Some of the most important and impactful moments in the history of the Miami Marlins are linked to Cuba during the reign of Fidel Castro.

The news that Castro died late Friday at age 90 sent shockwaves through South Florida and brought back memories of major Marlins moments.

Exactly two months before the announcement of Castro’s death, Marlins Cuban-born pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a violent boat crash off Miami Beach at age 24 on Sept. 25. Fernandez had quickly endeared himself to South Florida’s Cuban-American community with his electrifying personality and uniquely Cuban story that so many could identify with.

>> Read more trending stories

“Fernandez was an icon when it comes to talent in baseball,” said Cookie Rojas, who is a 77-year-old former MLB player born in Cuba. “He will be well remembered as a tremendous athlete. It’s a shame that he’s not back here with us, but that’s life. When you select a few players who were the best that ever came out of the island, I think he had everything in an athlete to be, if not the top, one of the top players from the island.”

Fernandez was born in Cuba, and arrived to the United States in 2008 at age 15 on his fourth attempt to leave the island controlled by Castro. When he finally made it to the United States on his fourth attempt, he saved his mother from drowning when she fell overboard.

From there, Fernandez turned into a coveted MLB prospect as a high school pitcher at Tampa-Alonso and was drafted by the Marlins in 2011.

>> Fidel Castro dies: Music, dancing, parades fill Miami streets

Fernandez made his major-league debut in 2013 and was named National League Rookie of the Year. He posted a 38-17 record to go with a 2.58 ERA and 589 strikeouts in 471 1/3 innings for his career with the Marlins.

But Fernandez said “one of my important accomplishments” was becoming a U.S. citizen in 2015.

From being stuck in a country run by an oppressive communist government to living the American dream. That was Fernandez’s story and that’s the story of many Cuban-Americans.

>> Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dead at 90

It’s what made Fernandez’s death so hard for South Florida to accept. The area mourned the pitcher’s death for days, as Fernandez’s family held a public procession and viewing to give the community a chance to say goodbye.

“It hit everybody in the Cuban community,” Rojas said. “Not only because he had the kind of talent that he had – pitching, hitting, running, laughing and all that. But what he meant to the community, the way he went around and won so many games. He meant a hell of a lot to the Cuban people and baseball in general. He was a great kid with a laughing face all the time.”

Another iconic Marlins pitcher quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his Cuban story. Livan Hernandez defected from Cuba in 1995 and made his name known throughout Major League Baseball quickly.

>> Fidel Castro dies: Exiles recall pain with sorrow, freedom with joy

Hernandez pitched for the Marlins from 1996-99. But his most memorable season came in 1997 when the Marlins won their first World Series championship.

“[Livan] meant a lot to the audience in Miami and baseball in general,” Rojas said. “Coming out of Cuba, he was one of the first players who got out. It just shows the kind of talent there is in Cuba when it comes to the athletes playing baseball.”

As a wide-eyed 22-year-old new to the United States, Hernandez was named the National League Championship Series MVP and World Series MVP. He was the winning pitcher in Game 1 and Game 5 of the 1997 World Series against the Cleveland Indians.

>> Fidel Castro dies: Florida leaders hope Cuba knows more freedom

Hernandez’s mother, Miriam Carreras, used a six-month visa to visit the United States from Cuba to watch her son’s team play in Game 7.

One of the most memorable quotes in Marlins history came from Hernandez just minutes after winning the 1997 title. The rookie dropped to his knees and screamed “I love you, Miami!” with his thick accent as he received his World Series MVP trophy.

There’s another memorable quote in Marlins history that’s also connected to Cuba. Former Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said that he loved Castro in a Time Magazine article in 2012.

>> World reacts to death of Fidel Castro

Guillen later apologized to the Cuban-American community and all Latin Americans, but it didn’t stop South Florida from protesting in response to his quote. The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games because of the comments and he was later fired after one season with the organization.

These are just some of the moments and stories that link the Marlins to South Florida’s Cuban-American population. Most of all, it’s the community’s love for baseball.

And on the weekend of Castro’s death, we are reminded of that.

“His death will be remembered by the Cuban community in Miami like you kept us out for so many years and finally you’re gone,” Rojas said. “So maybe pretty soon we can go back.”

Fidel Castro dies: Music, dancing, parades fill Miami streets

The news that much of Miami has been waiting decades to hear finally arrived Friday night when Cuba's state-run television announced that Fidel Castro was dead.

Within hours spontaneous celebrations had broken out on the streets of Little Havana. The party rumbled right into Saturday as hundreds gathered outside the neighborhood's Versailles restaurant, an iconic gathering spot for Cuban exiles for nearly as long as the 90-year-old Castro held power over the island nation.

>> Read more trending stories

Police were forced to block off several streets as revelers, many draped in Cuban flags, uncorked bottles of champagne, sang '"Guantanamera" and "La Vida es un Carnaval" and danced salsa and merengue while partying like it was 1959 — the year Castro's rule began.

"This is going to go on for a week — at least," said Elliete Rodriguez, of Miami, adding she was on hand to honor her father whom she said died in exile without ever returning to Cuba.

>> Related: Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dead at 90

By 10 a.m. Saturday, the cacophony created by honking horns, blaring car stereos and the banging of pots and pans along Calle Ocho — Eighth Street — had reached rock-concert decibels with no end in sight.

"It's a huge moment in history," said Michael Porta, who said his grandfather was imprisoned by Castro's government for his political views. "One of the last tyrants of the 20th century just passed away. It may not change much on the island right away, but it is a cause for celebration in the exile community and anybody who loves freedom."

>> Related: Fidel Castro dies: Exiles recall pain with sorrow, freedom with joy

Rumors of Castro's death had toyed with exiles' emotions for years.

Speculation of his demise began ramping up after Castro fell ill in 2006 and peaked in 2012 when a Venezuelan doctor who treated the Cuban leader said Castro had suffered a heart attack and was unresponsive.

In January 2015, Castro's death became the source of conjecture again following his prolonged absence from public appearances.

That caused Univision anchor Jorge Ramos to warn on his Twitter account: "Careful. Remember that here in Miami, almost like a ritual, Fidel Castro is killed several times a year."

Like the boogeyman in a horror movie, Castro emerged every time.

Until Friday.

>> Related: Fidel Castro dies: Florida leaders hope Cuba knows more freedom

"No one is eternal," said Angela Williams, who held a sign in one hand stating "Cuba Libre" and another placard denouncing "57 years of dictatorship and suppression of human rights" in the other. "You have to die some time."

Williams stressed that she was not "celebrating" the death of another human being as much as she was honoring loved ones and extolling political freedom.

But that view was certainly in the minority Saturday.

"I'm a Christian, so I feel a little like a hypocrite, but I'm happy inside," said Claudia Ortiz of Miami.

Damian Maytin, 17, was less diplomatic. His family left Cuba eight years ago after Raul Castro took the reigns of power from his older brother. Raul Castro, 85, has announced that he will not serve beyond 2018, but Maytin believes he will maintain control as long as he lives.

"One Castro is down, and we hope the other one dies soon," Maytin said.

>> Related: World reacts to death of Fidel Castro

Exiles once believed that Fidel Castro's death would result in the collapse of Cuba's one-party, totalitarian system.

But Henry Marinello said that as long as Raul Castro and other Communist party stalwarts remain in power, nothing will change.

Marinello arrived on Calle Ocho early Saturday holding a sign with the names "Che, Fidel and Raul" written inside bubbles. The names Che — for Cuban revolutionary figure Che Guevara — and Fidel had lines crossed through them. Under the bubbles were the words, "Falta uno," Spanish for "one's left."

>>Related: President Obama releases statement on Fidel Castro's death

Marinello said that he and his brothers came to the U.S. as children in the 1960s while their father stayed behind working with anti-Castro dissident groups. His father was eventually arrested and then executed by a firing squad, he said.

"My father was an idealist," Marinello said. "He believed in freedom. He stayed trying to overturn the Castro regime, and he died doing it."

Beyond the abundance of Cuban and American flags flying in Little Havana Saturday were those from Brazil, Israel, Venezuela and other countries.

Ben Lightfoot of New Zealand biked to Calle Ocho with his 3-year-old son Niko in tow.

"We wanted to see a little history," Lightfoot said.

>> Related: Key dates during the Fidel Castro era in Cuba

Salvador and Celena Parisi of Venezuela said they were on hand to show solidarity with Cuban-Americans. When Fidel Castro and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez were alive, they formed a close bond that many Venezuelans say has led to the South American country's collapse.

"We're living through what many Cubans have already experienced," Salvador Parisi said. "The body of a totalitarian system remains in Cuba, but now the head has been cut off."

One celebrant reminded a reporter that Cuban-Americans have long toasted the New Year with the refrain: "Next year in Cuba!"

With Castro's death, Claudia Ortiz said that hope may be closer to reality.

"I don't think Cuba is going to change overnight," said Ortiz, born in Cuba before moving to Miami 23 years ago. "You can't change 57 years in a week or even a month. We're going to need years to change. But it's a beginning."

Fidel Castro dies: Florida leaders hope Cuba knows more freedom

A durable communist dictator at home and a romanticized icon of the left throughout much of the world, Cuba's Fidel Castro was also a towering figure for decades in Florida politics.

>> Read more trending stories

Exiles who fled Castro's oppression reshaped the cultural and political landscape in Miami, where they and their descendants have dominated elected offices and established themselves as an influential constituency in statewide politics.

Younger generations of Cuban-Americans are more open to engagement with the communist island, but a hard-line approach remains prevalent in the GOP, with candidates for president and other offices making regular trips to Miami's Little Havana to sip cortaditos and denounce the Castro regime.

President-elect Donald Trump, for whom large rallies were the main mode of campaigning, did a rare small-scale event last month at Miami's Bay of Pigs Museum, which commemorates the failed 1961 effort by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro.

Trump, who is spending Thanksgiving weekend at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, first reacted to Castro's death via Twitter.

"Fidel Castro is dead!" Trump tweeted on Saturday morning.

Read the full story from The Palm Beach Post

Fidel Castro dies: Exiles recall pain with sorrow, freedom with joy

The bar was working overtime at Copacabana Cuban Cuisine on Saturday, muddling mojitos and stirring up Cuba Libres and their intrinsic promises.

"It's the beginning. It's the beginning of the end," said the restaurant's effusive owner, Gustavo Garcia, who was offering two-for-one cocktails all day and late into the night. "I'm very happy, and my people here are very happy."

>> Read more trending stories

The grand parenthesis that was Fidel Castro's 49-year rule over Cuba closed some years ago. But Friday's announcement that the dictator was dead offered a kind of finality that local Cuban exiles have long dreamed about. It also offered a touchstone moment by which to measure their lives.

>> Related: Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dead at 90

For school custodian Lazaro Camacho, the news sent him back to the six years he endured in one of Cuba's more notorious prisons, Kilo 7 in Camaguey. During his time there, 40 prisoners died in a revolt. Camacho was sent there at age 19 for simply trying to leave the island.

"Only in Cuba. In any normal country, or democratic country, it's not a crime to leave," said Camacho, who described the prison as a "terrible concentration camp." And while he is not one to cheer anyone's passing, he believes Castro's death merits demonstrations of joy. "He was a cruel dictator who ruined too many lives."

Read the full story from The Palm Beach Post

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