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Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Lin-Manuel Miranda is Penning a 'Love Letter to Puerto Rico' to Help the Relief Effort

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Like so many other Americans, Lin-Manuel Miranda is pained to see the devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. More than a week after the storm hit, millions of the island’s residents are still without power—a situation that some officials estimate could take six months to rectify. So Miranda, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York, is using his voice to make a difference. On October 6 he’ll release a charity single to help raise money so that the U.S. territory can begin the process of rebuilding. 

"It's a love letter to Puerto Rico," Miranda told CNN of the unnamed song. "I had the idea at 3 in the morning … The initial demo was me singing in a bathroom." We can only assume that the final version will be a bit more polished, particularly as it will feature a number of other celebrity artists (and we’re not exactly sure how many people Miranda can fit in his bathroom).

"[I] called every Puerto Rican I know," Miranda said about enlisting additional artists to assist him in the effort. "To every artist, I've said, 'Can you help out on this song?' And they said yes. Without even hearing the song, everyone's joined in.”

Though he hopes the single will help the island’s recovery efforts, Miranda says that it will take more than the generosity of individual citizens to make Puerto Rico whole again. "Only the federal government has the resources, as we have seen in every hurricane or natural disaster [that] has hit us here in the mainland," he said. “Only the federal government has the resources to really begin the rebuilding process.” 

Still, Miranda knows how the news cycle works. He wants to be sure that we keep talking about the situation in Puerto Rico and doing what we can to help. "I know there's a tendency for fatigue because we've just been through two hurricanes,” he said. “And we can't be fatigued when it comes to our fellow Americans.” 

"We are doing what Hamilton did, we're jumping up and down and screaming for support," he added. "Please don't stop telling our story."

[h/t: CNN]

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This Just In
Australian University Evacuated After Rotten Durian Smell Mistaken for Gas Leak
Mohd Rasfan, AFP/Getty Images
Mohd Rasfan, AFP/Getty Images

If you’ve ever been within sniffing distance of a durian, you would know it: The odor of the Southeast Asian fruit has been compared to decaying flesh, old garbage, and rotten eggs. The scent is so pungent that it prompted the recent evacuation of a university library in Melbourne, Australia, the Australian Associated Press reports.

Firefighters were called to investigate the scene on Saturday, April 28 after a strong smell was reported in the university library of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Police initially suspected it was a gas leak coming from the potentially harmful chemicals stored at the site. It was only after about 600 students and faculty members were evacuated that firefighters wearing gas masks discovered the true source of the stench: a durian that had been left to rot in a cupboard.

Putrid gases from the fruit had made their way into the air conditioning system, where they circulated thoughout the building and got the attention of the inhabitants. Though durian isn’t toxic, the fruit’s rancid remains are being dealt with by the Environment Protection Authority of Victoria.

Evacuating an entire building over some old produce may seem like an overreaction, but the room-clearing power of durian is taken seriously in other parts of the world. The fruit is banned in some hotels in Southeast Asia, and the Singapore subway famously posts signs warning passengers not to carry it onto trains.

[h/t Australian Associated Press]

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There's an Easy Way to Rid Your Mailbox of Catalogs and Other Junk
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iStock

You've signed up for paperless billing. You've opted in on e-statements for your credit cards. But your mailbox is still filled to the brim with envelopes full of useless credit card offers, catalogs, coupons, and charity solicitations. Thankfully, there is a way to take back your mailbox from unwanted junk mail—if you know where to go. According to The New York Times, there is a relatively painless way to reduce the amount of unwanted paper piling up in your mailbox.

DMAChoice.org is a website run by the DMA, or the Data & Marketing Association, a New York-based lobbying organization for data-based marketing and advertising that represents around 3600 companies that send direct mail to consumers, i.e., the sources of your junk mail. In order to try to keep consumers happy (and thus, more amenable to marketing), the website lets consumers opt out of certain categories of unsolicited mailings.

For a $2 registration fee, you can remove your name from mailing lists for catalogs, magazine offers, and other direct mail advertising. Your can opt out of offers from specific companies, like say, the magazine Birds and Blooms or the AARP, or you can opt out of all companies in a category. If you don't want to get any mail from DMA-affiliated businesses, you have to separately opt out of all three categories: magazine offers, all catalogs, and all "other" mail offers.

Compared to ripping up AARP offers every single day, the effort is worth it. For less than the price of a few stamps and a few minutes of your time, you can vastly cut down on your junk mail. While the opt-out only applies for companies that find their direct-mail potential customers through DMA lists, you'll still be eliminating a huge swath of your unwanted mail.

As for those annoying "prequalified" credit card offers, you'll have to go to a different website, but this one, at least, is free. OptOutPrescreen.com, run by the four major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Innovis, Experian, and TransUnion—lets you opt out of all of credit card offers originating from the customer lists provided by those four reporting agencies. You can either file a request to opt out on the website to free yourself of credit card mailings for five years, or mail in an opt-out form to stop receiving them permanently. The site does ask you for your Social Security number, but it's legit, we promise. It has the FTC's stamp of approval.

[h/t The New York Times]

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