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July 19, 2018

US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites

US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Space
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On Tuesday, astronomers of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, United States, announced the discovery of ten small satellites orbiting Jupiter. With this discovery, Jupiter now has 79 known satellites.

The team led by Scott Sheppard had discovered twelve of the 79 Jovian satellites, including Tuesday’s ten, mostly using a Blanco 4-meter telescope of Chile’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. The observatory is operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in the US. The tiny satellites, none more than five kilometres in diameter, were first observed in 2017. Orbits of these new Jovian satellites were calculated by International Astronomical Union‘s Minor Planet Center‘s Gareth Williams. Williams explained, “It takes several observations to confirm an object actually orbits around Jupiter […] So, the whole process took a year.”

The astronomers were looking for planets much farther out than Pluto. Sheppard said, “Jupiter just happened to be in the sky near the search fields where we were looking for extremely distant Solar System objects, so we were serendipitously able to look for new moons around Jupiter while at the same time looking for planets at the fringes of our Solar System”.

Of the twelve satellites discovered by the team, nine were found to be retrograde, revolving around the gas giant in the direction opposite to the planet’s spin. These nine new retrograde satellites take about two years to complete one revolution around Jupiter.

The remaining three satellites were prograde, spinning in the same direction as Jupiter’s rotation. One of the prograde satellites, newly announced on Tuesday, took about one-and-half years to complete one revolution around Jupiter, and its orbit intersected with the outer retrograde satellites. Sheppard said, “Our other discovery is a real oddball and has an orbit like no other known Jovian moon […] It’s also likely Jupiter’s smallest known moon, being less than one kilometre in diameter”. The astronomer also said, “This is an unstable situation […] Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust.”

Sheppard said of the composition of those satellites, they “started orbiting Jupiter, instead of falling into it. So we think they are intermediate between rocky asteroids and icy comets. So they are probably half ice and half rock.”

Valetudo” is the name suggested for the “oddball” satellite. Valetudo was the Roman god Jupiter‘s great-granddaughter, regarded as the goddess of health and hygiene.

Sheppard said, “Jupiter is like a big vacuum cleaner because it is so massive”. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, with a diameter about 142,984 kilometres. The largest known satellite in the Solar System is Jupiter’s Ganymede, whose diameter is approximately 5268 kilometres. Saturn has the second-most known satellites: 62, while Uranus has 27.



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July 17, 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, June 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, June 2016

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 United States presidential election
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The following is the second edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the effect of the Brexit vote on the US presidential election is examined; a well known businessman and sports team owner pitches his candidacy for vice president; and Wikinews interviews the winner of the American Independent Party California primary.

Summary[]

As June began, national opinion polls showed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a slight lead over presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Despite being mathematically eliminated, Senator Bernie Sanders remained in the Democratic race. He still held close in head-to-head match ups against Clinton in delegate-rich California ahead of that state’s June 7 primary. Clinton, who won the June 4 Virgin Islands caucuses, focused her energies on Trump, delivering a speech criticizing his candidacy. Trump responded, saying the country “is gonna die” were Clinton elected president. Trump secured the holdout endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan and threats of a Republican establishment revolt subsided when National Review writer David A. French, the preferred presidential choice of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, announced he would not run. However, Trump came under intense criticism, largely from fellow Republicans, when he accused the judge hearing a lawsuit over his venture Trump University, Gonzalo Curiel, of bias due to the judge’s Mexican heritage. Ryan called the comments “racist.” Trump’s former rivals John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker all denounced the comments. Lindsey Graham labeled Trump’s remark “the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy.” Senator Mark Kirk renounced his endorsement of Trump. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an early Trump supporter and potential running mate, called Trump’s statement “inexcusable” and “one of the worst mistakes Trump has made.” Trump described Gingrich’s criticism as “inappropriate.” Shortly thereafter, Gingrich argued that Trump’s concerns were “valid and reflect a growing pattern of politicized justice.” Trump said the media and others “misconstrued” his words. Clinton speculated that Trump was using the attack to divert attention from the Trump University case.

Clinton speaks at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund on June 10.
Image: Lorie Shaull.

On the eve of the California primary, Clinton won Puerto Rico. With the delegates gained from her victory as well as a few additional superdelegates, Clinton surpassed the 2,383 delegate threshold to secure the Democratic nomination. The Associated Press, NBC, and ABC all declared Clinton as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The next day, Clinton won the California primary and also those held in New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Sanders won the Montana primary and North Dakota caucus. Sanders remained in the race but reportedly planned to cut his campaign staff by half. He announced plans to continue his campaign through the June 14 District of Columbia primary. On the Republican side, during what was the final night for GOP primaries, Trump swept all the June 7 contests in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. In the end, Trump received a record total of 13.2 million votes in the GOP primaries. Still, his Super PAC reserved only $1.2 million in television advertisements, compared to the $108 million Clinton’s Super PAC reserved. In addition, Trump stepped back from his previous fundraising goal of $1 billion, insisting he only needed half that amount. In terms of running mates, Gingrich denied having any interest on the GOP side. For Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid backed away from his initial reluctance and endorsed the idea of Senator Elizabeth Warren filling the role. Warren took to the stump, endorsing Clinton and condemning Trump as “a loud, nasty, thin-skinned, fraud” and “wannabe tyrant.” In response, Trump tweeted his desire for “goofy” Warren to receive the vice presidential nomination and accused her of having a “nasty mouth” and “one of the least productive” records in the Senate. Other Democrats also gave their support to Clinton. President Barack Obama endorsed her candidacy as did former presidential rival Martin O’Malley. Sanders stopped short of supporting Clinton, but said he would “do everything in [his] power” to defeat Trump. On the other hand, several Republicans distanced themselves from Trump. GOP booster and Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman hinted she would endorse Clinton, and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he was leaning toward backing Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson. Romney said he could not back Trump because of Trump’s “racism … bigotry … [and] misogyny.” Trump responded that he was “the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered” and attacked Romney as “absolutely pathetic,” saying Romney “choked like a dog” during his loss to President Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Polls from June 10 showed Clinton leading Trump nationwide with leads ranging from three to eleven percentage points.

Trump speaks at an Arizona rally on June 18.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

The campaign took a new turn on June 12 when a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida left 49 dead. The shooter expressed allegiance to ISIS. In the aftermath, Trump tweeted appreciation for those congratulating him for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism” but said he did not want the congratulations, preferring “toughness and vigilance” instead. He attacked President Obama as someone who “doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands.” The Washington Post published an article interpreting the comment as suggesting Obama was “complicit” in the shooting. In response, Trump revoked the press credentials of the Post. On the day following the shooting, Trump delivered a speech condemning it as “an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity”. He criticized Clinton’s immigration policies as opening the door for Islamic radicals espousing anti-LGBT views and said he would be a better protector of LGBT rights than Clinton. In addition, he slammed Clinton and Obama for not using the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Clinton, who denounced the shooting as an “act of terror” and “an act of hate,” said she was comfortable using the term “radical Islamism.” This prompted Trump to declare he had “shamed” Clinton into using the term. Furthermore, Clinton touted her support for a ban on assault rifles and gun ownership for those on the no fly list. Trump agreed on the last point and said he would attempt to convince the National Rifle Association, which had endorsed him, to support such a measure. With the shooting dominating news coverage, the final Democratic primary was held on June 14 in Washington, D.C. Clinton handily defeated Sanders. A Bloomberg poll of Sanders supporters showed 22% planned to vote for Trump, 15% for Gary Johnson, and 55% for Clinton. The same poll showed a 12 point advantage for Clinton over Trump, 49% to 37% with 9% for Johnson. A CBS poll showed a tighter race with Clinton leading Trump 39% to 32% with Johnson at 11%. Clinton and Trump shared high unfavorable ratings in an ABC/Washington Post poll with 55% of respondents having a negative opinion of Clinton and 70% having a negative opinion of Trump.

Dissension within the Democratic Party appeared to crest in mid-June. Sanders finally admitted “it doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee” and said he planned to vote for Clinton in the general election. This came even as reports showed Sanders was not being considered for the vice presidential nomination. According to The Wall Street Journal the individuals being vetted for the position were Senator Warren, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senators Tim Kaine, Sherrod Brown, and Cory Booker, as well as Congressmen Tim Ryan and Xavier Becerra. Meanwhile, Trump’s June struggles continued as the DNC opposition research file on him was hacked, reportedly by the Russian government, then leaked and published on Gawker. Trump accused the DNC of orchestrating the hack itself to publicize “misleading and/or entirely inaccurate” information. Next, a number of prominent Republicans endorsed Clinton, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, both members of the George W. Bush administration. Congressman Mike Simpson claimed there were many other Republicans who would privately vote for Clinton over Trump without saying so publicly. Reports of an anti-Trump delegate coup at the Republican National Convention were published in The Washington Post. Trump denied this as a media-crafted hoax. Additionally, Federal Election Commission reports showed the Trump campaign short on cash with only $1,289,507 available. Citing need for a change, Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski replacing him with Paul Manafort. Combating the dissension within the party, national co-chairman Sam Clovis went on CNN, demanding Republicans “to get behind the presumptive nominee …[or] just shut the hell up.” The outlook for the Trump campaign improved with the vote in the United Kingdom to exit from the European Union. Trump publicly backed the exit, which was hailed as a populist reaction similar to the movement behind Trump. Trump, who was in Scotland at the time opening a golf course, explained the vote as the UK taking “back their country. That’s a great thing.” At the end of June, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Trump trailing Clinton by only one point nationwide, 39% to 38%, with Johnson at 10% and presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein at 6%. By June 30, a Rasmussen Reports poll showed Trump with a four point lead over Clinton, 43% to 39%. In the Real Clear Politics average at the close of June, Clinton led Trump 44.6% to 39.8%.

Brexit’s impact on the US presidential election[]

In June, the United Kingdom voted to exit from the European Union, resulting in the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. This historic turn of events, termed the Brexit, had ramifications of international import. Particularly, the moment became one of political significance in the United States due to the involvement of both President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Comparisons of the anti-establishment Brexit movement were made with the anti-establishment campaign of Trump. Seeking professional analysis, Wikinews looked to political science to better understand the potential impact of the Brexit vote on the 2016 US presidential election.

Last April, President Obama inserted himself into the politics of Brexit, urging Britain to remain in the European Union. He wrote an editorial for The Telegraph and held a press conference with Prime Minister Cameron in which he warned that if Britain divorced itself from the EU, it would go “to the back of the queue” in terms of a trade agreement with the United States. In contrast, Donald Trump argued in favor of Brexit, connecting it to the larger issue of immigration. Commentators noted the goals of the Brexit movement aligned with Trump’s protectionist views on trade and support for immigration restriction. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, a leading proponent of Brexit, was himself compared to Trump.

Anti-Brexit street art of Donald Trump embracing Boris Johnson.
Image: Matt Brown.

The most immediate impact of Brexit on the United States came just after reports of the 52 percent to 48 percent vote, when stocks tanked. Markets rebounded somewhat since, though uncertainty remains. Hillary Clinton attacked Trump for the consequence. Her foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan argued that “Trump actively rooted for this outcome and the economic turmoil in its wake”. Clinton ran an ad in which she accused Trump of benefiting financially from a market downturn. Trump labeled the ad “disgraceful” and claimed she was “trying to wash away her bad judgment call on BREXIT with big dollar ads.”

Trump’s head-to-head polling numbers against Clinton increased somewhat after the June 23 vote. Trump rose in the Rasmussen Reports survey from a five point deficit before to a four point lead after. In Gravis, Trump cut Clinton’s four point lead in half. However, deficits for Trump remained unchanged for the Economist/YouGov and the Reuters/Ipsos polls.

Pollster John Zogby of Zogby Analytics expects Trump’s position to improve as a result of Brexit. He tells Wikinews, the vote “strengthens populism and gives Trump supporters some wind at their back.” As for Clinton, he foresees difficulties due to the closeness of the race and the perception of Clinton as “the rep of the elites at a bad time to be so.”

Political scientist John McCormick, a professor of European Union politics at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, mostly agrees. Though the Brexit impact is difficult to predict, McCormick explains to Wikinews that “some of the forces that led to Brexit are also behind the popularity of Donald Trump, and in that sense Brexit has opened the door a little wider to the possibility of a Trump presidency.”

“A lot of people voted for Brexit because they resented the manner in which they thought establishment politicians had ignored their needs, or were fearful of more emigration, or disliked the effects of globalization, or had bought into populist warnings about the growing domestic threats of Islamist extremist terrorism”, says McCormick, “So people here are going to be voting for Trump for many of the same reasons they voted for Brexit in the UK, and in that sense the vote will have an effect on the November election.”

McCormick also believes further economic disturbance could result from Brexit, which could itself have an effect on the election as US voters head to the polls.

Amid talk of secession in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London, the UK Conservative Party was to select a new Prime Minister to oversee Brexit and attempt to unify the kingdom. The selection was thought likely to be made in October, just a month ahead of the US presidential election.

Cuban makes vice presidential pitch[]

With the National Basketball Association concluding its season in June, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a new sport to follow. As he revealed last August in a chat on his social media app Cyber Dust, “5 weeks till training camp […] [b]ut until then Donald Trump watching is a sport.” Though Cuban, a fellow businessman and billionaire, then praised Trump’s unconventional candidacy as “probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long, long time”, and even offered himself as a possible running mate, he has since grown critical of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, questioning his wealth, temperament, and business acumen. The marked change has led to speculation about Cuban’s own political aspirations. In May, members of the #NeverTrump movement approached him about running for president as an independent, which he rejected. He did, however, open himself to running as the running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, punctuating that possibility with a statement that he is leaning toward voting for her over Trump in November. As the 2016 Democratic National Convention approaches, Cuban has continued to express his interest in the position.

Cuban in 2005.
Image: James Duncan Davidson/O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Cuban addressed the vice presidency on the May 22 edition of Meet the Press, proclaiming that, if offered, he would join Clinton’s ticket on the condition she “go more to the center” politically. He explained, “I like the fact that Senator Clinton has thought-out proposals.” Nevertheless, he has criticized Clinton for having “no personality”, “no charisma”, and for making “horrible mistakes” as Secretary of State, mentioning the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Nevertheless, Cuban says he is willing to look past all that, believing the main issue is “whether or not I can add value and whether or not I can impact any perspective and hopefully have a positive impact on the country”.

James Pethokoukis, writing for The Week, explains how Cuban can add value to a Democratic ticket. Describing Cuban as charismatic and well spoken, Pethokoukis says Cuban would neutralize Trump’s appeal as an outsider candidate while making the Democratic ticket “more palatable” to disaffected Republicans. Though the nomination of a centrist businessman could upset progressives, Pethokoukis feels Cuban’s middle-class Pennsylvania background could provide a compelling story for the majority of the electorate.

“Basically, Cuban is Trump”, writes Pethokoukis, “without all the bigotry … and without the insane policies … and with probably more dough.”

Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics disagrees with Pethokoukis’s premise. “To me, the first rule of vice presidential selection is ‘first, do no harm'”, he explains to Wikinews, “Cuban would be a risky choice for Clinton that does not provide an obvious benefit[…] One of Clinton’s benefits in this election is that, compared to Trump, she seems qualified for the job and serious enough for the job. Picking Cuban doesn’t really help her make that argument.”

Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research agrees, commenting to Wikinews that Cuban has “virtually no chance” of becoming Clinton’s running mate because, “he’s a political novice who doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of shoring up Hillary’s left flank, appealing to independents, or being a governing partner. Cuban’s a colorful, outspoken guy, and I think he’s just having fun. I don’t think he has any real political ambitions.”

Clinton insiders also say Cuban has no chance. However, Clinton herself is appreciative of Cuban’s “openness,” announcing on Meet the Press that she is “very interested” in considering “successful businesspeople” who have not held elected office.

Still, Cuban has continued to make media appearances touting himself as a potential vice presidential candidate. He even went on the attack against a front-runner for the position, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, arguing she is too far left and that if she were selected, he would probably vote for Trump. In addition, Cuban recently boasted to TMZ that Clinton “needs me” for the position.

At the end of June, Cuban met with former President Bill Clinton, husband of Hillary, at a casual dinner party where politics were discussed.

Clinton is expected to choose a running mate before the July 25 National Convention commences in Philadelphia. Senators Warren, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro are among the favorites to receive the vice presidential nomination.

California American Independent Party primary winner speaks to Wikinews[]

Though most of the media attention of the June 7 California primary focused on the Democratic and Republican races, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump winning each, respectively, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and the American Independent Party (AIP) all held primaries as well, owing to the fact that each has attained the status of political party in the state; a designation reserved for parties that can show they have registered members totaling greater than 0.33% of registered voters in the state, and maintained with either keeping registered voters at that percentage or holding 0.067% of registered voters while winning at least two percent of the vote in a statewide election. The largest of these third parties, the AIP, had seven participants in its primary. Wikinews reached out to the victor, Alan Spears, an attorney from Cedar Glen, California.

██ Alan Spears

██ Arthur Harris

██ Robert Ornelas

██ Wiley Drake

██ J.R. Myers

██ James Hedges

██ Tom Hoefling

The AIP is a paleoconservative group formerly affiliated with the Constitution Party. It opposes same-sex marriage, abortion, and supports the construction of a fence along the US–Mexico border. Though the party has an estimated half million registered members, three percent of all registered voters in California, a Los Angeles Times poll shows 73% mistakenly joined the party believing they were registering as Independent. As a result, these voters could only vote in the American Independent Party primary.

According to the latest count, 42,241 voted for the candidates on the ballot in the primary. Ballot Access News speculated Donald Trump won the primary since more than two thirds of voters wrote-in candidates, the majority believed to have been for Trump, but these votes were not counted. Of the candidates on the ballot, Spears won with 8,103 votes (19.2%). Former Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineering technician Arthur Harris came in second with 7,216 (17.1%). 2012 AIP vice presidential nominee and hip hop artist Robert Ornelas finished third with 7,164 (17%). Fourth place Wiley Drake, a pastor and TV host, edged fifth place J.R. Myers, chairman of the Alaska Constitution Party, by one vote, 5,476 to 5,475 (roughly 13% apiece). Prohibition Party presidential nominee James Hedges came in sixth with 4,462 (10.6%). Surprisingly, the AIP’s 2012 presidential nominee Tom Hoefling came in last place with 4,345 votes (10.3%). The results of the primary are nonbinding. The AIP is to nominate its 2016 presidential ticket at its convention August 13–14.

Spears, who uses the slogan “Let’s Restore America’s Greatness,” proclaims on his candidate statement provided to the California Secretary of State, “[w]e [Americans] are at war with Islam!” He focuses his presidential campaign on the issue of Islamic terrorism, advocating the use of “overwhelming force” to combat it. Additionally, he believes the US government “must deal with anarchists hiding behind the First Amendment who seek to destroy our institutions,” and supports an eradication of the “Deep Dark Web.”

With Wikinews, Spears discusses his primary victory, the AIP nomination, ballot access, and what he hopes to accomplish with his campaign.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png What is your reaction to winning the California American Independent Party presidential primary in June? Do you believe this victory will help you secure the AIP presidential nomination?

Spears: I was shocked and pleasantly surprised I won the AIP’s California June 7th Primary. It wasn’t by much of a margin, and the totality of the Party’s votes were minuscule, but I feel I did make a VERY conservative statement. I pray that it will [help secure the nomination]!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png Are you attempting to appear on the ballot in other states? If so, where? If not, why?

Spears: I haven’t a clue how to get on the primary ballots in other states, and I believe it is too late at this juncture.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png What do you hope to accomplish by running for president?

Spears: My ultra-conservative politics are essential to the survival of the Republic. Trump spews rhetoric, but until quite recently his words lack meaning. He has little insight into foreign policy and military matters. God, how I wish I could trade positions with him! I am “on record” The Voter’s Self Defense System with policy positions, have spewed much ultra-conservative drivel at www.Facebook.com/aesracingltd, and try to find time to blog to my website at Home – Alan E. Spears, Esq – Independent Presidential Candidate You may vet me at www.Alan Spears.com.



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July 3, 2016

FBI interviews Hillary Clinton over emails

FBI interviews Hillary Clinton over emails

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

2016 United States presidential election
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Yesterday, Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was interviewed at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. during a process which took over three and a half hours.

File photo of Hillary Clinton, 2016.
Image: Iorie Shaull.

The interview was part of the ongoing probe by the FBI into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, created and hosted at her home in Chappaqua, New York, which she reportedly used while she was Secretary of State. The FBI is investigating emails sent on this server, particularly any classified emails regarding the 2012 Benghazi attack that occurred on September 11, 2012 — eleven years after 9/11 — and left four US citizens dead.

The interview comes at a problematic time for Clinton as she is the favorite for Democratic Party nomination for US President at the 2016 Democratic National Convention which is set to take place at the end of July. Any indictment could alter the result of the Democratic National Convention’s decision on a nominee, paving the way for other politicians such as Bernie Sanders to receive the nomination.

Both Clinton and the FBI have declined comment on the interview, but her spokesman Nick Merrill said Clinton is “pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion.” The Justice Department reportedly hopes to conclude the investigation before the Democratic Convention at the end of July.

GOP lawmakers are suggesting a conflict of interest after United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch reportedly met with Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, on Lynch’s plane at a Phoenix airport on Monday. This prompted Lynch to state on Friday she would accept the investigation’s findings. Clinton and Lynch described it as a “short chance meeting” and “exchange of pleasantries”. Lynch expressed her regret for the meeting, stating she “certainly wouldn’t do it again”. GOP lawmakers said the emails should be investigated by a third party, as they questioned the Department’s impartiality.

The FBI is expected to conclude their investigation sometime before the convention on July 25.



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December 23, 2015

Suicide bombing in Afghanistan kills six US NATO members

Suicide bombing in Afghanistan kills six US NATO members

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

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On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a motorcycle in Bagram District, Afghanistan. The bombing killed six US NATO service members and injured several others.

According to NATO and Afghan officials, the bombing occurred at 1:30pm local time in a village near Bagram Airfield. Bagram Airfield is located about 40 km (25 mi) north of Kabul, the Afghan capital.

The bombing killed six US NATO soldiers. The US Department of Defense delayed officially releasing their names, following policy, but all the victims have been identified.

One of them is Joseph Lemm, aged 45. Lemm served fifteen years as an officer of the New York City Police Department and has a wife and two children.

Another is Adrianna Vorderbruggen, an openly lesbian US Air Force major. Vorderbruggen advocated repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and is now married to her same-sex partner. The couple has a son.

The others are Peter Taub from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Michael Anthony Cinco from Rio Grande Valley, Texas, age 28; Chester McBride Jr., Statesboro, Georgia; and Louis Bonacasa, Coram, New York.

The bombing also injured others, including two US military personnel and, according to an Afghan official, three local police officers.

Via email and Twitter, the Taliban, whose regime the US overthrew after invading the country in 2001, claimed responsibility to the bombing.

Currently, about 10,000 US, and less than half as many NATO, military personnel remain in Afghanistan.



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April 18, 2015

Gyrocopter lands on US Capitol\’s west lawn

Gyrocopter lands on US Capitol’s west lawn

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Aviation

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Douglas Mark Hughes, a mailman for the United States Postal Service, landed his gyrocopter on the west lawn of the US Capitol on Wednesday. He told his friends he was going to do this.

File photo of a gyrocopter.

The mailman was flying his aircraft into restricted airspace when he landed on the lawn. He was immediately arrested. His stated intention was to deliver letters to all members of Congress concerning campaign finance statutes. As a protective measure, the Capitol complex went on lockdown for a time.

Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times of his intentions to fly the light-weight aircraft. The paper said they alerted the Secret Service and the United States Capitol Police, but FOX News reported some disagreement about this from Capitol Police. Hughes had no contact with air traffic controllers during the incident.

The mailman said his intention was non-violent, but he wanted to spread the word about his cause. The Secret Service questioned him some months before the incident.

Hughes was charged under United States Code Title 49, concerning transportation. He was released from jail under conditions including that he must not visit the US Capitol. He is currently under house arrest.

Besides this low-flying aircraft incident, a government employee crashed a drone onto the White House property a few months ago. Also, the Secret Service conducted drone exercises to combat against possibly rogue light-weight aircraft last month.

The airspace above the Washington D.C. region is protected below 18,000 feet MSL (Mean Sea Level) with the roughly fifteen-nautical-mile-radius Flight Restricted Zone which surrounds the VHF omnidirectional range located at Washington National Airport, which handles regularly scheduled commercial flights. Pilots are not allowed to fly in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Special Flight Rules Area, which includes the Flight Restricted Zone, unless they have FAA authorization and are able to maintain effective communication with air traffic control with a two-way radio. Pilots must obtain a transponder code when flying under visual flight rules in this area. Law enforcement and air ambulance operations are exempted from the FAA authorization requirement if they can maintain communications with air traffic control.

The FAA was investigating this incident, along with law enforcement agencies. Police found no explosives in the aircraft.



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  • “U.S. Secret Service conducts drone exercise” — Wikinews, March 12, 2015

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April 12, 2015

US Capitol lockdown lifted after shooting

Filed under: Archived,United States,Washington, D.C. — admin @ 5:00 am

US Capitol lockdown lifted after shooting

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

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In Washington D.C., the U.S. Capitol building has reopened after shots were fired in front of it. For safety, no entry or exit was permitted from the building after a man committed suicide just before 2pm local time yesterday. The lockdown lasted until around 3:50pm while members of the bomb squad investigated the man’s backpack, suitcase, and the surrounding area.

A witness estimated 60 other persons were in the area at the time of death. Witnesses reported the man had a sign of protest about taxation and social justice.

The shooting occurred during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, a busy Washington tourist season. Congress was not in session during the attack but are returning from recess tomorrow.



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March 12, 2015

U.S. Secret Service conducts drone exercise

U.S. Secret Service conducts drone exercise

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

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The Associated Press (AP) reported on Tuesday the U.S. Secret Service is conducting drone exercises over Washington, D.C. to defend against unmanned aerial vehicles being flown over the area.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the Secret Service to conduct these flying exercises. The exercises are to be over parts of D.C. airspace which is normally off-limits below 18,000 feet, also called a no-fly aone or the D.C. flight restricted zone. The exercises are to take place in the very early morning hours over the next several weeks.

According to AP, a U.S. official speaking under condition of anonymity said the agency is testing these drones for law enforcement and to defend against potentially dangerous drones, but declined to comment on the specific details because they’re classified. However, they sought to prevent concerns by possible witnesses by publicizing their intent to conduct tests. The agency is cautious of witnesses of unmanned aerial vehicles flying over D.C. because of a drone sighting incident several weeks ago. Witnesses saw several unidentified drones flying over Paris, France, which caused concerns.

AP said techniques to be tested include signal jamming. Most drones use radio-frequency signals for remote control. Intercepting these signals might allow tracking the drones. Jamming, though, could interrupt Wi-Fi of people in the vicinity.

The FAA last month announced preliminary guidelines requiring UAVs be operated within sight of the operator, prohibiting night flying, and requiring speeds below 100 miles per hour (about 160 kph) and altitudes below 500 feet.



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October 4, 2014

Patient under evaluation with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C.

Patient under evaluation with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

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A patient was admitted to a hospital in Washington, D.C. after showing Ebola-like symptoms, according to a statement yesterday by hospital spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton.

Howard University Hospital
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Hamilton confirmed Howard University Hospital admitted the patient in stable condition. The patient had been to Nigeria, where some cases of the Ebola virus have occurred. The hospital has followed protocol for infection control, including separating the patient from others to prevent possible infection of others.

The director of the D.C. Department of Health said they have collaborated to monitor patients with Ebola-like symptoms with Howard University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland admitted another patient with Ebola-like symptoms, but health officials there yesterday night later determined this person had malaria, not the Ebola virus.

At the peak of Ebola countermeasures in Nigeria, almost 900 people there were monitored for the virus after contacting someone who was already sick.



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October 1, 2013

Sallie Mae leads Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints about student loans

Sallie Mae leads Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints about student loans

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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Image: Joshua Davis.

A review this week by Wikinews of US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaints about student loans in the United States shows Sallie Mae leads all lending institutions in complaints. Of the 4,851 complaints dating back to March 2012 when the CFPB first began collecting student loan data, 2,262 or 46.6% of all complaints were about the lender. US Federal Reserve data from 2010/2011 shows Sallie Mae is the nation’s largest student loan lender, responsible for 25% of the market

The other major lenders in this space include Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, PNC, and Discover. In complaints, AES/PHEAA came in second with 546, or 11.3% of all complaints. Wells Fargo, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase each had between 5% and 7.5% of all complaints, totaling 918 complaints between them. 78 other lending institutions round out the list of organizations with complaints filed against them for student loans.

Few of the complaints originate from people with problems with federal student loans. Less than 1%, 35 total, are for these types of loans, with Sallie Mae accounting for the bulk of complaints with 17 total. 14 other lending institutions have 3 or fewer complaints. For non-federal student loans, Sallie Mae is still the leader for complaints, with 2245 or 46.6% of all non-federal student loan complaints.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sorts complaints into three issues: Problems when you are unable to pay, Repaying your loan, and Getting a loan. None of the federal loans had complaints about getting a loan. For non-federal loans, 65.5% of the 4,816 complaints related to loan repayment. Sallie Mae led in total complaints in this category with 1467. They were followed by AES/PHEAA with 356, Wells Fargo with 231, Citibank with 201, Discover with 158, JPMorgan Chase with 154, ACS Education Services with 143, and KeyBank NA with 116. CFPB says loan repayment issues include a basket of claim types including “fees, billing, deferment, forbearance, fraud, and credit reporting.” Problems when you are unable pay accounts for 30.8% of the complaints. Sallie Mae had 698 complaints. They were followed by AES/PHEAA with 181, JPMorgan Chase with 106, Wells Fargo with 104, Citibank with 70, and KeyBank NA with 58. Many of the complaints are, according to the CFPB, because borrowers have difficulty getting deferrments on loan repayment as a result of being unable to find employment.

Month by month complaints against major lenders
Image: Laura Hale.

The total complaints against Sallie Mae for September of this year is 2 fewer than the same time last year. The company’s performance this year compared to last year has been mixed. March and June numbers were down over 150 complaints from the same month a year before. April, May, July and August all saw increases of 17–43. Of the top six lenders by volume of complaints, only AES/PHEAA and Citibank saw drops every month between March and September from the total volume in the previous year. Wells Fargo had a gain of 1 in August and 6 in May from the previous year. JPMorgan Chase had a difference of 0 from the same month last year for April, 3 more this year for May, and 4 more for August. Discover saw an increase every month from the same period last year except for September. When the total complaints differences from year to year for March to September are counted, this year has 571 fewer complaints against the top six lenders.

Closure reason percentage for student loan complaints by lender
Image: Laura Hale.

Most, 1470, of the complaints against Sallie Mae were closed with explanations. 10.2% were closed with monetary relief. 7.7% were closed with non-monetary relief. 2.1% were closed with relief and 12.1% were closed without relief. AES/PHEAA’s complaint closure picture was much different. 40.1% of AES/PHEAA’s 546 complaints were closed with non-monetary relief, 35.3% were closed with explanations and 21.2% were closed without relief. Of the eight lending institutions with 100 or more complaints filed against them, Discover was the institution most likely to result in a closure with monetary relief with 12.9% of all their closures ending this way. Citibank was the institution with the highest percentage of closures ending with no relief at 26.0%.

Geographic distribution of student loan complaints
Image: Laura Hale.

Complaints over student loan lenders were geographically distributed, coming from 3,447 different zip codes. The largest cluster of complaints is for 20001, a Washington D.C. zip code with 10 complaints originating from there. 07950, the zip code for Morris Plains, New Jersey, and 37013, the zip code for Antioch, Tennessee, each had 8 complaints originating from them. Zip codes for Patchogue, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington D.C.; and Arlington, Virginia each had 7 complaints originating from them. By volume of complaints by state, New York led with 497, with California second with 467, Pennsylvania third with 303, Florida fourth with 288 and Ohio fifth with 219 complaints. US Territories largely occupied the bottom spots. The Northern Marianas Islands, with a population of around 50,000, had 1 complaint. The U.S. Armed Forces – Pacific had 3. North Dakota and U.S. Armed Forces – Europe had 5 complaints each. South Dakota had 7. Wyoming had 8. Puerto Rico and Alaska had 9 each. Rounding out the bottom five states by volume of complaints, Mississippi had 11.

With the possibility of a United States government federal shutdown looming on October 1, student loans may be impacted because of potential for an automatic increase in interest rates.



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September 1, 2013

Ginsburg becomes first United States Supreme Court justice to officiate a same-sex marriage

Ginsburg becomes first United States Supreme Court justice to officiate a same-sex marriage

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

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Official photograph of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Image: Steve Pettewat.

Yesterday, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first United States Supreme Court justice to officiate a same-sex marriage. The ceremony took place in the District of Colombia, in the atrium of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The center’s President Michael M. Kaiser married economist John Roberts before a group of around 200 guests.

Ginsburg is quoted by the Washington Post as saying of her officiating, “I think it will be one more statement that people who love each other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings and the strife in the marriage relationship […] It won’t be long before there will be another”. The Supreme Court Justice is scheduled to officiate at another same-sex wedding ceremony later this month between David Hagedorn and director of communications and executive affairs for the National Weather Service Michael Widomski.

Justices occasionally perform marriages, often for those who have clerked for them. Ginsburg suggested same-sex couples hadn’t requested justices marry them before lest their involvement interfere if and when the issue came before the Supreme Court. Opposite-sex marriages officiated by members of the Supreme Court included Ginsburg officiating at her son’s wedding, and Justice Clarence Thomas officiating at one of Rush Limbaugh‘s weddings.

Ginsburg was among the justices siding with the majority in two cases dealing with same-sex marriage that came before the Supreme Court this year.

Same-sex marriage is legal in thirteen US states and the District of Colombia. It is also legal in or in parts of seventeen other countries.



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