Her family came 400 years ago, she says – in chains

Ashley Shaffer
Wanda Tucker went to Angola to get in touch with her ancestors.

The Titanic is being “devoured” by metal-eating bacteria, Anderson Cooper called out Ivanka Trump and a woman traveled 7,000 miles to face the truth about slavery.

It's Ashley. It's Thursday. Here's the top news.

But first, bad grandpa: Six people – all over the age of 60 – were arrested after police responded to "lewd and sexual activity" in a public park

This untold story of 1619 defines America 

The first enslaved Africans landed in Virginia in August 1619, and Wanda Tucker fiercely believes her ancestors were aboard that ship, The White Lion. Her search for answers led her on a journey to the place she believes her ancestors once called home: Angola. Along the way, she reminded herself that they had made it in the opposite direction by force – in chains. Four hundred years later, USA TODAY tells the story of the Tuckers, the founding family you’ve never heard of. We spent months on an ambitious series exploring that journey, its protagonists and the pain and repercussions that continue today.

More on 1619, a year that shaped America:

The Titanic is decaying 

For the first time in 14 years, divers traveled to the Titanic's final resting place. It's not good: Metal-eating bacteria are devouring the storied ship as it's battered by deep-sea currents. A team of explorers made five dives to the wreck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and found the hull starting to collapse and the officers' quarters deteriorating. "Captain’s bath tub is a favourite image among the Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone,” Titanic historian Parks Stephenson said in a statement, “and the deterioration is going to continue advancing.” The Titanic collided with an iceberg April 14, 1912. The ship went under two hours and 40 minutes later, and more than 1,500 people died.

What I'm reading: Josh Hafner, editor of The Short List

Once a week, we'll feature some 🔥 story picks from my USA TODAY colleagues. Next up: Josh Hafner, our newsletter's faithful editor.

Anderson Cooper: Trump's tweets on Jews must make Ivanka 'proud'

Anderson Cooper brought Ivanka Trump into his analysis of Trump's criticism of Jewish Democrats. Ivanka Trump, a senior adviser to the president, converted to Judaism before she wed husband Jared Kushner. Trump said Tuesday, “Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat – I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." Cooper provided a history lesson on CNN Wednesday: "It should be noted that throughout history, calling Jews disloyal has been a common anti-Semitic trope," Cooper said. "It’s been a pretext to exclude Jews or take their businesses or put them in ghettos or expel them or expel them from schools or exterminate them." Cooper added, "Ivanka Trump must be very proud of her dad tonight.” 

Anderson Cooper speculates on father-daughter dynamics in the Trump family.

Real quick 

PSA: Single-use plastics are the devil

People kept leaving trash on Mount Everest, so single-use plastics are banned in the region altogether. The ban goes into effect in January and covers all plastics less than 30 microns in thickness. This includes plastic bags, straws, soda and water bottles and most food packaging, The Hindu reported. The natural wonder of the world has been littered with trash as more adventurers try their luck at scaling the peak. Many bodies of fallen climbers also remain on Everest.

Prison suicides were rising before Epstein died

When accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in prison this month, it was the first recorded suicide at Manhattan’s federal detention center in 13 years. But across the vast Bureau of Prisons, suicides have gradually increased even as the overall inmate population declined. Twenty-seven federal inmates died of suicide during the federal government’s most recent fiscal year, the largest number in at least five years.  Short-staffing has made the problem worse, court records and prison officials say. Epstein’s death – the 21st suicide in a federal facility since October – captured the attention of the Justice Department like no other prison fatality.

One more thing: Is this a bird or a bunny?

A viral video of a mysterious bunny slash bird (?!) is confusing everyone. The internet can't make up its mind

Is it a bird or a bunny? The internet can't make up its mind

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Titanic, Taylor Swift, Tucker family, Anderson Cooper: Thursday’s news