Colin Dwyer

It began with more than 1,500 books.

With all the works submitted by publishers, the judges for this year's National Book Awards have had their hands (and bookshelves) full the past few months. But that daunting number of contenders winnowed further Wednesday, as the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for its literary prize — just five works each in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.

It took just over an hour.

At about 10:08 p.m. local time Sunday, the first reports of gunfire surfaced on dispatch radio for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. By about 11:20 p.m., law enforcement had used explosives to bust down the door of a hotel room in Mandalay Bay, where they would soon report their suspect dead, surrounded by firearms.

At first, it just sounded like fireworks.

The Sunday headliner, Jason Aldean, had taken the stage not 30 minutes before, and it seemed natural that on the final night of Las Vegas' three-day Route 91 Harvest music festival there would be some pyrotechnics. Even Aldean stayed on stage as the first loud bursts rang out above the crowd of some 22,000 people.

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The rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea cooled for a day — and just a day only, it appears.

Roughly 24 hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters the U.S. has been engaged in diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, President Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to deride the effort — as well as Kim Jong Un.

Nearly 11 months since the last time Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi spoke publicly, the leader of the Islamic State purportedly broke his silence Thursday. ISIS media released a 46-minute audio message that plays a speech by Baghdadi, according to the militant group.

It remains unclear when the message was recorded.

Sure, it's been known to rain cats and dogs during some heavy thunderstorms. And if we're to believe The Weather Girls — and who wouldn't? — it was even raining men that one time in 1982.

But fish? That feels like a new one.

After months of competition and preparation, contractors broke ground Tuesday on eight prototypes for President Trump's long-promised border wall. U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that the companies would have about 30 days to complete construction on their prototypes in San Diego.

"We are committed to securing our border and that includes constructing border walls," CBP's acting deputy commissioner, Ronald Vitiello, said in a statement Tuesday.

Roughly a month after the Brazilian government said it would open a wide swath of Amazon rain forest to mining interests, it has backpedaled on that controversial decision. In a statement Monday, the country's Ministry of Mines and Energy said President Michel Temer would issue a new decree restoring the original conditions of the nature reserve.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith is retiring, the credit reporting agency announced Tuesday. The news comes just weeks after the company said a massive data breach exposed the personal information of up to 143 million people.

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