Trouble in Space, Haiti and the White House Press Room

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Schiaparelli’s landing didn’t go quite as planned.
Photo Credit: 
Space.com

Late Friday, campaign volunteers received a letter filled with a white, powdery substance addressed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in New York. Those present were evacuated, as well as the entire floor of the building. However, testing yesterday proved that the substance was not hazardous. A spokesperson, Glen Caplin, said that the offices will be open this morning without interruption. “Preliminary testing by federal and local officials has found the substance to be non-hazardous. The four individuals involved have reported no health issues and, following a full examination by medical personnel, were each released to go home,” he reported.

After singing the national anthem while kneeling at an NBA preseason game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers, Denasia Lawrence addressed the heavy criticism she has received for doing so, with some saying that her behavior was “sickening.” The Miami Heat also released a statement saying that they were completely unaware regarding Lawrence’s plan, admitting she gave no indication she was going to perform kneeling and then open her jacket to reveal a Black Lives Matter t-shirt.

“We’re being unjustly killed and overly criminalized. I took the opportunity to sing and kneel to show that we belong in this country and that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us,” said Lawrence. “I didn’t get paid to sing the national anthem nor was this moment about any sort of fame. Black Lives Matter is far larger than a hashtag, it’s a rallying cry.”

New photos show that the European ExoMars lander, named Schiaparelli, which was intended to land on Mars Wednesday, actually crashed, and an orbiting NASA spacecraft spotted its final resting place. The landing site shows a section seemed to be the device’s 39-foot parachute, and then a 50-by-130-foot dark spot guessed to be caused by the landing impact.

The ESA released a statement yesterday saying, “Estimates are that Schiaparelli dropped from a height of between two and four kilometers, therefore impacting at a considerable speed greater than 300 kilometers per hour. The relatively large size of the feature would then arise from disturbed surface material. It is also possible that the lander exploded on impact, as its thruster propellant tanks were likely still full. These preliminary interpretations will be refined following further analysis.”

The lander was launched in March, and was meant to test technologies needed for a following life-hunting rover in 2021.

The state of California is asking almost 10,000 veterans to replay hefty signing bonuses that are more than 10 years old. In the mid-2000s, the state was struggling to meet enlistment quotas, and the California National Guard was handing out bonuses much too liberally, according to the Pentagon. Now, soldiers who served multiple tours of duty overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan are being asked to repay tens of thousands of dollars each.

Susan Haley is one such veteran, who was given a bonus of $20,500 to reenlist for six years. Now, she is paying that total back at $650 per month. She told The Daily News that she feels “totally betrayed” and that she’ll repay the amount, but that she “wants those years back.” Those soldiers who do not repay their bonuses will be sentenced with tax liens and wage deductions. So far, the California National Guard has retrieved more than $22 million from such soldiers, with more yet to come.

Local authorities and United Nations peacekeepers have launched a manhunt for 174 fugitives who escaped from a prison in Haiti yesterday, stealing firearms and killing one guard. Police have set up checkpoints and detained several suspects, but all of the inmates are wearing civilian clothes, making them even more difficult to find. One prisoner also died in the escape, after falling off a wall; three other prisoners were wounded. The U.S. embassy in Haiti issued an advisory, telling U.S. citizens to avoid the area around Arcahaie.

In lighter news, Bill Murray crashed the White House press room Friday, taking the podium to speak to reporters after the daily press briefing by Josh Earnest. Murray gave reporters his opinions on the Cubs-Dodgers game. He was in Washington, D.C., to accept an award for humor and meet with President Obama.

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