NASA Shows Off Its First Asteroid Samples Delivered by Spacecraft

USA – Voice of America 

NASA on Wednesday showed off its first asteroid samples delivered last month by a spacecraft — the most ever returned to Earth.

Scientists and space agency leaders took part in the reveal at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The ancient black dust and chunks are from the carbon-rich asteroid named Bennu, almost 60 million miles away. NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft collected the samples three years ago and then dropped them off sealed in a capsule during a flyby of Earth last month.

Scientists anticipated at least a cupful of rocks, far more than what Japan brought back from a pair of missions years ago. They’re still not sure about the exact quantity. That’s because the main sample chamber has yet to be opened, officials said.

“It’s been going slow and meticulous,” said the mission’s lead scientist, Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona.

Black dust and particles were scattered around the outside edge of the chamber, according to Lauretta.

“Already this is scientific treasure,” he said.

Besides carbon, the asteroid rubble holds water in the form of water-bearing clay minerals, said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

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Jordan and Scalise make their case but GOP conference remains divided on who should be speaker


The House GOP’s two candidates for speaker detailed their plans during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday for avoiding a government shutdown – a key issue for members, and one that sank Kevin McCarthy’s speakership.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan made their pitches during the Tuesday meeting ahead of a conference vote for speaker on Wednesday, but GOP lawmakers made clear that the conference remains divided, and there’s a heavy dose of skepticism among Republicans that they will quickly coalesce around either candidate to be the next speaker.

Jordan told members he wants a long-term, stopgap spending bill that would cut current spending levels by 1% in order to give them more time to pass individual spending bills, according to multiple lawmakers in the room.

Rep. Don Bacon, a key moderate Republican, said he is leaning toward Scalise but was impressed by how “pragmatic” Jordan’s pitch was.

“Because of his past, I think we expected to hear the Freedom Caucus message – it was not that. It was very pragmatic,” Bacon said. “And I thought convincing, that he would do his best to represent everybody and I thought something like – they could work with the Democrats in the Senate, he has got to work with a Democratic president. So I thought he did a great job.”

Scalise, however, didn’t go as far in suggesting the need for a stopgap bill, but told members he wants to pass all 12 appropriation bills and force negotiations with the Senate.

“I think we’re voting not just for a speaker, but for the speaker’s plan to get us through the next 75 days. The appropriations cycle. And the biggest difference between Scalise and Jordan is Jordan has a plan to avoid a shutdown. And it wasn’t clear to me that Scalise does,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who is backing Jordan.

Both Jordan and Scalise committed to supporting one another if they become the nominee, lawmakers said. And both committed to continuing the House GOP’s impeachment inquiry, according to lawmakers in the room.

Scalise told reporters leaving Tuesday’s forum that Republicans had a “great forum” and he was building a coalition in the conference, though he did not answer whether he thought he had the votes to secure the nomination.

“People want to see us get back on track. We need a Congress that’s working,” Scalise said. “Tomorrow, we need to get Congress back to work. Speaker Scalise on day one – we will, number one, be passing a resolution to express our strong support for Israel – Chairman (Mike) McCaul’s bill, which has over 200 cosponsors.”

But Republicans Tuesday evening expressed skepticism that they would be able to quickly elect a new speaker.

“In case you haven’t noticed, we’re a pretty a divided conference right now,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a North Dakota Republican. “So I think this might take a little time to sort out.”

GOP Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida said, “No one is close to 217,” which is what will be required on the floor to win the speakership.

During the forum Tuesday, Cammack pressed Scalise and Jordan on what “promises” they made to members in their bid to become speaker, according to a source familiar with the meeting. It’s a pertinent question given that some of McCarthy’s January side deals to become speaker became a factor in his detractors’ decision to oust him.

Jordan’s response, according to a source familiar, was that the only promise he made was to “fight for you all.” Scalise, however, didn’t answer the question, the source said.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California walks on Capitol Hill on Octover 10, 2023, in Washington, DC.

Vulnerable Republican Rep. David Valadao of California would not say which candidate for speaker he would support, but warned that it will be difficult for either Scalise or Jordan to get the needed votes.

“I think both candidates are going to struggle to get to 218,” he said.

McCarthy said Tuesday that he will support whichever candidate for speaker gets the Republican GOP conference’s support, after urging his supporters in the conference not to nominate him for speaker.

Asked who he would vote for while standing outside the party’s candidate forum, McCarthy told reporters, “Whoever comes out of there.”

After leaving open the idea Monday he could be renominated for speaker, McCarthy said Tuesday that he told his allies in the room not to nominate him. “I know a lot of them want to nominate me. I told them, ‘Please do not nominate me,’ ” he said. “There are two people running in there. I’m not one of them.”

McCarthy said that he only expected two members to be nominated, and that how they deal with the eight Republicans who voted to oust him will determine whether House Republicans are able to govern going forward.

“It’s more than selecting a speaker. If this conference continues to allow 4% of the conference to partner with Democrats when 96% of the conference wants something else, they will never lead,” McCarthy said.

Asked whether they could vote on a speaker this week, he said, “I expect there to be a vote and elect a new speaker this week.”

Some allies to Scalise saw McCarthy’s maneuvering heading into the speaker’s vote this week as designed to hobble Scalise’s bid for speaker, which has heightened tension between their camps.

McCarthy and Scalise have maintained a cordial working relationship over the years but have long been seen as potential rivals. Scalise considered challenging McCarthy for leader in 2018, and this year, McCarthy tapped his trusted allies Reps. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina and Garret Graves of Louisiana – not his top leadership deputies – to help him with his January speaker’s bid, the debt ceiling crisis and government funding deadline.

McHenry is now serving as interim speaker.

On Monday night, the conference gathered for the first time since last week’s historic vote to oust McCarthy, but the two-hour session left them no closer toward coalescing around a speaker nominee and a path forward as they debated potential rules changes and grapple with the raw feelings lingering after the unprecedented events of last week.

While the impetus on Republicans to pick a new speaker escalated after the terrorist attack in Israel over the weekend, the House GOP conference remains bitterly divided over how it should proceed – and who can get the 217 votes needed to lead it.

Republicans are preparing for the prospect that neither Scalise nor Jordan can get the votes to be elected speaker, leaving the conference with no clear path forward. They’re also divided over the rules that the conference will use to elect a new speaker – while hoping to avoid the embarrassment of the 15-vote marathon that played out for McCarthy in January.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.


Who to see for cancer screenings, running versus antidepressants, and Ozempic’s dangerous side effect

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Iraqi man arrested in Germany for alleged involvement in Islamic State killings and amputations

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German authorities on Wednesday arrested an Iraqi man accused of involvement in the killing of prisoners and the amputation of a person’s hand in his homeland as a member of the Islamic State group.

The suspect, identified only as Abdel J.S. in line with German privacy rules, was arrested in the western city of Wuppertal, federal prosecutors said. He is accused of membership in a foreign terrorist organization and participation in war crimes.

Prosecutors said in a statement that he joined IS by June 2014 and in the following months participated twice in the extremist group’s “draconian public punishments.” In one case, they said, he was involved in the execution of at least six prisoners. In another, he is accused of providing security while the hand of an alleged thief was amputated.


He and other IS fighters also allegedly took a person prisoner and beat and kicked the captive to extract information, the German authorities said.

A judge on Wednesday ordered the suspect held in custody pending a possible indictment.


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1 dead, 2 critical after Indianapolis hotel room shooting

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A shooting inside an Indianapolis hotel room left a man dead Wednesday and another man and woman hospitalized in critical condition, police said.


No one has been taken into custody. Preliminary information indicates the shooting was “isolated and contained,” and investigators are not looking for anyone else involved, said Officer Samone Burris of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. She said some type of disturbance likely preceded the shooting.

“We need people to come forward to tell us what happened inside that room before officers arrived,” Burris said, “so we can make sure we get a resolution to this case.”

Officers were called at about 10:30 a.m. to an Extended Stay America hotel on the city’s northwest side, she said. A man was pronounced dead at the scene, while a man and a woman were in critical but stable condition.


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Shooting near US-Mexico border kills 2 Guatemalan migrants, Mexican army soldiers under scrutiny

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Two Guatemalan migrants were killed and three others — along with a Honduran man — were wounded in a shooting in northern Mexico near the U.S. border that apparently involved Mexican army soldiers.

Prosecutors in the northern state of Chihuahua said the army has turned over four soldiers to testify in the case, but did not say whether they were formally suspects in the still-unclear shooting on Monday.

The survivors told authorities they were heading to the border wall in a truck with a ladder to climb a wall into the United States, when they came under fire. The four wounded migrants mostly suffered wounds to their legs and their injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

The army also turned over four rifles for testing. A fifth soldier who was apparently in the patrol vehicle has not been located.

Prosecutor Carlos Manuel Salas said the shooting occurred near the Santa Teresa border crossing west of Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. He said the army performs regular patrols in the area.


“This is a patrolled area, and that is why there was this encounter with the soldiers, who were doing their traditional patrolling,” Salas said, adding that the circumstances of the shooting remained unclear.

In past shooting incidents in northern Mexico, Mexican army troops have claimed they opened fire on suspicious vehicles or those that refused to stop.

Salas said the case would be turned over to federal prosecutors because it involved federal forces.

Mexican National Guard officers and state police have been implicated in shootings of migrants in the past.


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Gunmen target mosque in eastern Pakistan, killing 2, including militant linked to anti-India group

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A pair of gunmen walked into a mosque in eastern Pakistan on Wednesday and opened fire at the worshippers, killing a member of an outlawed anti-India militant group and another man before fleeing the scene, authorities said.

According to the police, the gunmen pretended to be worshipers when they walked into the mosque in Daska, a city in eastern Punjab province.

Once inside, they pulled out their firearms and fatally shot Shahid Latif, a militant and close aide to Masood Azhar, the founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group. They also shot and killed a worshipper whose identity was not revealed.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but local police chief Hassan Iqbal said it appeared that Latif was intentionally targeted. The police chief did not provide further details.


New Delhi has blamed Jaish-e-Mohammad for multiple past attacks in India, including the 2016 attack when seven soldiers were killed at a base in the town of Pathankot in northern India.

New Delhi officials did not immediately comment on the attack. Media reports in India have said that Latif was sought over the Pathankot attack.

In 2016, Pakistani authorities registered a case against “unknown suspects” in connection with the attack after Indian investigators claimed that phone intercepts suggested the Pathankot attackers had come from Pakistan.

Pakistan and India have a long history of bitter relations. Since independence from Britain in 1947, the two South Asian rivals have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan region which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in its entirety by both.


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Manhunt underway for third suspect in Massachusetts shooting that led to death of baby

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Prosecutors have named the third person wanted in connection with a shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, during which a pregnant woman on a bus was hit by gunfire and delivered a baby that later died.

Kermith Alvarez, 28, of Holyoke, is being sought following the shooting on Oct. 4. Two other men have been arraigned on murder charges and are expected back in court on Nov. 3.

“Alvarez is actively avoiding law enforcement, the firearm used in this incident has not been recovered, and he should be considered armed and dangerous,” the Hampden District Attorney’s office said in a news release.

Police responding to the shooting said it appeared three male suspects were involved in an altercation before gunshots were fired. The pregnant woman, who remains unidentified, was shot while seated on a public bus passing through the area and was taken to a hospital in critical condition, investigators said. Her condition was not immediately known Wednesday.


The infant was delivered in the hospital but later died.

Johnluis Sanchez, 30, and Alejandro Ramos, 22, both of Holyoke, were arraigned last week on murder charges. Sanchez was shot during the incident and was hospitalized. They pleaded not guilty.

Both were ordered held without bail.

Anyone with information on Alvarez can contact the detective unit or the violent fugitive apprehension section of the Massachusetts State Police.


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‘The View’ co-hosts call out Squad Democrats over response to Hamas attacks

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“The View” co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin called out Squad Democrats on Wednesday after Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., refused to condemn the butchering of children by Hamas terrorists on Tuesday.

Griffin began by praising President Biden’s Tuesday speech on the Hamas terrorist attacks.

“Joe Biden nailed it, that was a very strong moment for the American president but I hope members of the Squad tuned in. Yesterday Rashida Tlaib was asked to condemn the butchering of children, she refused to answer the question, she refused to condemn it,” Griffin said. 

Fellow co-host Joy Behar said it was “obnoxious.”


Griffin added that other Squad Democrats said they needed to end aide to Israel. 

Co-host Sara Haines said that there was “no version of a two-state solution right now” because Hamas was “elected in Palestine.”

“Biden did, I saw what you saw, Sunny, unequivocally denounced the terrorist attack while also hopefully discouraging other terrorist organizations from jumping in, which is also an important note here, because there is a temptation. The hard part here is, there’s no version of a two-state solution right now in this area due to the fact that Hamas, who rules and was elected in Palestine, has said in their charter that ‘peace talks is an exercise in futility, and we will not stop until we destroy Israel,'” co-host Sara Haines said. 

Co-host Sunny Hostin said we “have to look at some restraint,” after saying that the Palestinans have not had a democratic election since 2007.


“When you look at international human rights law – I’m just putting my legal head on, this is not the Sunny hat, I understand the anger, but when you decide to retaliate collectively against a people that is also in violation of human rights law, so we have to look at some restraint,” she said of Israel’s military response to the attacks.

Behar, who seemed very frustrated at the end of the segment, immediately pushed back on Hostin and said Israel was warning Palestinian civilians to get out of the area and argued that they hadn’t had an election since 2007 because of Hamas. 

Griffin told Hostin that Hamas uses its people as “human shields.”

After speaking over each other, Behar seemed to wave off Hostin’s suggestion before they broke for commercial.

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Scientists use X-rays to reveal clue about techniques da Vinci’s used when painting ‘Mona Lisa’

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The “Mona Lisa” has given up another secret.

Using X-rays to peer into the chemical structure of a tiny speck of the celebrated work of art, scientists have gained new insight into the techniques that Leonardo da Vinci used to paint his groundbreaking portrait of the woman with the exquisitely enigmatic smile.

The research, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, suggests that the famously curious, learned and inventive Italian Renaissance master may have been in a particularly experimental mood when he set to work on the “Mona Lisa” early in the 16th century.


The oil-paint recipe that Leonardo used as his base layer to prepare the panel of poplar wood appears to have been different for the “Mona Lisa,” with its own distinctive chemical signature, the team of scientists and art historians in France and Britain discovered.

“He was someone who loved to experiment, and each of his paintings is completely different technically,” said Victor Gonzalez, the study’s lead author and a chemist at France’s top research body, the CNRS. Gonzalez has studied the chemical compositions of dozens of works by Leonardo, Rembrandt and other artists.

“In this case, it’s interesting to see that indeed there is a specific technique for the ground layer of ‘Mona Lisa,’” he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Specifically, the researchers found a rare compound, plumbonacrite, in Leonardo’s first layer of paint. The discovery, Gonzalez said, confirmed for the first time what art historians had previously only hypothesized: that Leonardo most likely used lead oxide powder to thicken and help dry his paint as he began working on the portrait that now stares out from behind protective glass in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Carmen Bambach, a specialist in Italian art and curator at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, who was not involved in the study, called the research “very exciting” and said any scientifically proven new insights into Leonardo’s painting techniques are “extremely important news for the art world and our larger global society.”


Finding plumbonacrite in the “Mona Lisa” attests “to Leonardo’s spirit of passionate and constant experimentation as a painter – it is what renders him timeless and modern,” Bambach said by email.

The paint fragment from the base layer of the “Mona Lisa” that was analyzed was barely visible to the naked eye, no larger than the diameter of a human hair, and came from the top right-hand edge of the painting.

The scientists peered into its atomic structure using X-rays in a synchrotron, a large machine that accelerates particles to almost the speed of light. That allowed them to unravel the speck’s chemical make-up. Plumbonacrite is a byproduct of lead oxide, allowing the researchers to say with more certainty that Leonardo likely used the powder in his paint recipe.

“Plumbonacrite is really a fingerprint of his recipe,” Gonzalez said. “It’s the first time we can actually chemically confirm it.”

After Leonardo, Dutch master Rembrandt may have used a similar recipe when he was painting in the 17th century; Gonzalez and other researchers have previously found plumbonacrite in his work, too.

“It tells us also that those recipes were passed on for centuries,” Gonzalez said. “It was a very good recipe.”

Leonardo is thought to have dissolved lead oxide powder, which has an orange color, in linseed or walnut oil by heating the mixture to make a thicker, faster-drying paste.

“What you will obtain is an oil that has a very nice golden color,” Gonzalez said. “It flows more like honey.”

But the “Mona Lisa” — said by the Louvre to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine silk merchant — and other works by Leonardo still have other secrets to tell.

“There are plenty, plenty more things to discover, for sure. We are barely scratching the surface,” Gonzalez said. “What we are saying is just a little brick more in the knowledge.”


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