The #SchumerShutdown Hashtag Is Getting A Big Boost From Russian Bots

The #SchumerShutdown Hashtag Is Getting A Big Boost From Russian BotsWASHINGTON ― As lawmakers wage a messaging war over who caused the government shutdown, Republicans and the White House are getting a big boost in their efforts to blame Democrats for the mess ― from the Russians.



Pope Francis Offers Partial Apology To Clergy Sex Abuse Victims After Demand For 'Proof'

Pope Francis Offers Partial Apology To Clergy Sex Abuse Victims After Demand For 'Proof'Pope Francis partially apologized for last week’s brusque attack on victims of clergy sex abuse ― but he continued supporting a controversial Chilean bishop accused of protecting a pedophile priest.



Bipartisan Group Of Senators Push For Deal To End Government Shutdown

Bipartisan Group Of Senators Push For Deal To End Government ShutdownWASHINGTON ― A bipartisan group of centrist senators met Sunday to work out a potential compromise that would fund the government until Feb. 8, contingent on a promise to hold a vote on an immigration bill before then.



Service Dog Atlas Meets Pluto During Trip to Disney World

Service Dog Atlas Meets Pluto During Trip to Disney WorldAtlas, a golden retriever, even has a stuffed Pluto toy at home.



Jeanette Epps is not the only astronaut NASA has removed from their planned flights

Jeanette Epps is not the only astronaut NASA has removed from their planned flightsOn Jan. 18, NASA announced that astronaut Jeanette Epps would not fly, as expected, to the International Space Station in June. The mission would have been historic, since she would have become the first African-American crewmember on the orbiting outpost.  The space agency hasn't released any information about why Epps was benched from her planned mission, saying only that "these decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information," according to NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean. Epps will now work in the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center and await another possible flight assignment. Epps' removal from her planned flight isn't without historic precedent. SEE ALSO: Astronaut expected to be the 1st African-American Space Station crewmember won't fly in 2018 after all NASA has benched astronauts before flights many times in its decades as a federal agency, and for many different reasons. "Flight assignments have been changed often in the past at various stages of training for a variety of reasons," Dean said via email. Specifically, quite a few astronauts have been removed from their missions for health reasons.  NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps.Image: NASANASA's Ken Mattingly was pulled from the Apollo 13 crew just a few days before their scheduled launch because he was exposed to German measles.  From the ground, Mattingly was part of the team that helped bring back the Apollo 13 crew to Earth after an oxygen tank exploded, putting the lives of the crew in serious danger and forcing them to abandon their planned moon landing.  Mattingly still earned a place in cinematic history, since he was portrayed by actor Gary Sinise in the movie Apollo 13. "Long before Jeanette Epps was pulled from her upcoming space station expedition, astronauts such as Ken Mattingly in 1970 and Don Thomas in 2002 were reassigned due to medical issues, while Mark Lee was pulled from a 2001 space station assembly shuttle mission for reasons NASA never disclosed," space historian and editor of collectSPACE.com Robert Pearlman said in an interview.  "To their crewmates' credit, despite the interruptions, the missions went on as planned (or in the case of Apollo 13, went awry but at no fault of Mattingly's replacement, Jack Swigert)." NASA also replaced Jeff Ashby in 1997 due to an illness in his family, and other astronauts have been removed due to other medical or personal issues. "NASA invests a lot of time, effort and money in training their astronaut crews, and stresses teamwork throughout, so the decision to remove an astronaut from a flight is never taken lightly," Pearlman said. Epps's 2018 mission was announced in 2017 and it immediately went viral.  News organizations profiled Epps and wrote about her expected upcoming flight, making the news of her reassignment all the more surprising.  She has not yet flown to space. Epps was chosen as part of NASA's 2009 astronaut class as one of 14 candidates.  Her path to NASA is different from many other astronauts, however.  Epps started off as a NASA fellow and then worked at Ford Motor Company before spending seven years at the Central Intelligence Agency.  Epps was inspired to become an astronaut after watching the first class of women become NASA astronauts decades ago. "It was about 1980, I was nine years old. My brother came home and he looked at my grades and my twin sisters' grades and he said, 'You know, you guys can probably become aerospace engineers or even astronauts,'" Epps said in a NASA video. "And this was at the time that Sally Ride [the first American woman to fly in space] and a group of women were selected to become astronauts — the first time in history. So, he made that comment and I said, 'Wow, that would be so cool.'" WATCH: Here's how Virgin's space program is different than SpaceX



With 25,339 murders in 2017, Mexico suffers record homicide tally

With 25,339 murders in 2017, Mexico suffers record homicide tallyThere were more than 25,000 murders across drug-ravaged Mexico in 2017, the highest annual tally since modern records began, government data showed. Investigators opened 25,339 murder probes last year, up nearly 25 percent from the 2016 tally, interior ministry data released on Saturday showed. Mexico has struggled with years of violence as the government has battled vicious drug cartels that have increasingly splintered into smaller, more bloodthirsty, gangs.



Leaders to meet with white separatist town official in Maine

Leaders to meet with white separatist town official in MainePORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Leaders in a Maine town said Sunday they will meet with their town manager, who has come under fire for espousing white separatist views.



2 IEDs Explode At Florida Mall

2 IEDs Explode At Florida MallTwo improvised explosive devices detonated at a mall in central Florida on Sunday, authorities said.



Kabul hotel attack: 19 dead, including 14 foreigners, in overnight Taliban siege

Kabul hotel attack: 19 dead, including 14 foreigners, in overnight Taliban siegeAt least 19 people were killed during a 13 hour siege after Taliban gunmen in army uniforms stormed a luxury Kabul hotel popular with Afghan officials and foreigners. Eyewitnesses described how the gunmen deliberately targeted foreigners as they rampaged through the six-floor Intercontinental Hotel.   One Afghan man told the BBC that he was spared by militants who shouted "Where are the foreigners?" as they ran into the hotel's restaurant at around 9pm local time on Saturday night. At least 14 of the dead were believed to be foreign nationals, among them two Venezuelans and six Ukrainians. The gun battle ended on Sunday morning as Afghan special forces killed the last of the six gunmen, who were armed with grenades, automatic weapons and suicide vests. By 10am, Special Forces could be seen sweeping the roof of the hotel as firefighters attempted to extinguish a blaze which had ripped through the sixth floor. Thick clouds of black smoke could be seen pouring from the building, an imposing 1960s structure set on a hilltop. Afghan security personnel stand guard as black smoke rises from the Intercontinental Hotel after an attack in Kabul Credit: AP Photo/Rahmat Gul Some 150 desperate staff and guests managed to escape the building throughout the night, amid heavy gunfire and explosions. One witness told AFP that the hotel's security team fled "without a fight". Dramatic footage showed people clambering down from upper-floor balconies using bedsheets tied together. Telecoms executive Aziz Tayeb posted a desperate plea on Facebook from a hiding place behind a pillar as attackers sprayed guests and staff with bullets: "Pray for me. I may die." Mr Tayeb was at the hotel for a major IT conference set to take place yesterday. The Intercontinental hotel in Kabul is under siege from gunmen. Credit: Reuters Abdul Rahman Naseri, also at the hotel for the conference, described how he saw four gunmen dressed in army uniforms. "They were shouting in Pashto, 'Don't leave any of them alive, good or bad'. 'Shoot and kill them all,’ one of them shouted," Mr Naseri said. "I ran to my room on the second floor. I opened the window and tried to get out using a tree but the branch broke and I fell to the ground. I hurt my back and broke a leg." The attackers are believed to have got into the hotel via the kitchen, and a worker in the restaurant said the men had sat down and ordered food, before opening fire. A man tries to escape from a balcony at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel during an attack by gunmen  Credit: Reuters "They were wearing very stylish clothes," the man, named as Haseeb, told Tolo News. "They came to me and asked for food. I served them the food and they thanked me and took their seats. Then they took out their weapons and started shooting the people." A senior security official said that the attackers had moved directly from the first floor to the fourth and fifth floors, suggesting the attack had been carefully prepared, possibly with inside help. An Afghan policeman keeps watch near the site of an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit:  REUTERS "When the sixth floor caught fire this morning, my roommate told me, either burn or escape," said Mohammad Musa, who was hiding in his room on the top floor. "I got a bed sheet and tied it to the balcony. I tried to come down but I was heavy and my arms were not strong enough. I fell down and injured my shoulder and leg.""There were dozens of dead bodies lying around me." The Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul was previously targeted in 2011. Credit: Reuters Wahid Majroh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, last night said 19 bodies had been brought into the city's hospitals, but a senior Afghan security official said the death toll was over 30 and might climb higher. At least 11 of the dead worked for private Afghan airline Kam Air, which on Sunday suspended domestic flights. It said a further 14 emloyees were still missing. A security personnel points his weapon near the Intercontinental Hotel after a deadly attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit: Massoud Hossaini Also among the dead was Dr Abdullah Waheed Poyan, a well-respected academic who had worked for the Afghan diplomatic corps. Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said a private company had taken over responsibility for security at the hotel three weeks ago and there would be an investigation into possible failings, just days after a US embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul. Afghan security forces arrive the site of an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit:  REUTERS The raid was the latest in a series of attacks that have underlined the city's vulnerability and the ability of militants to mount high-profile operations aimed at undermining confidence in the Western-backed government. The Taliban, which attacked the same hotel in 2011, claimed responsibility for the attack, its spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.



Trump administration's 'bogus' terror report had no Homeland Security input despite claims otherwise

Trump administration's 'bogus' terror report had no Homeland Security input despite claims otherwiseA Trump administration report that claimed three-quarters of those convicted of “international terrorism-related charges” were foreign born, was reportedly created without the input of Department of Homeland Security specialists and many experts believe it is misleading. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called the findings of the report “chilling”, while President Donald Trump tweeted about its findings. New report from DOJ & DHS shows that nearly 3 in 4 individuals convicted of terrorism-related charges are foreign-born.



Women's March Activists Rally In Las Vegas, Vow To Bring Their 'Power To The Polls'

Women's March Activists Rally In Las Vegas, Vow To Bring Their 'Power To The Polls'Women’s March activists gathered in Las Vegas on Sunday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the largest single-day protest in U.S. history and to launch a nationwide political action tour.



Vermont Makes History By Legalizing Marijuana, But Its Law Comes With A Catch

Vermont Makes History By Legalizing Marijuana, But Its Law Comes With A CatchFor the first time, a U.S. state has legalized marijuana with the stroke of a pen, not a vote at the ballot box.



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