Newly discovered comet likely an ‘interstellar visitor,’ NASA says

The discovery of a new comet scientists believe to be an “interstellar object” has set the astronomy community abuzz.

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If officially confirmed, the object would be only the second of its kind detected, according to a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

The newly found comet, dubbed C/2019 Q4, was discovered by Gennady Borisov, a Crimean astronomer working out of an observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea.

Scientists believe the comet to be interstellar after studying its trajectory and velocity.

“The comet’s current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph [150,000 kph], which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the Sun at that distance,” Davide Farnocchia, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

“The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space,” he added.

The comet — consisting of an icy body surrounded by a cloud of dust and particles — is currently approaching the sun, but the closest it is projected to come towards Earth is about 190 million miles, according to the NASA statement.

It will be visible with professional telescopes in the coming months and “will peak in brightness in mid-December and continue to be observable with moderate-size telescopes until April 2020,” according to Farnocchia.

The first known interstellar object to visit our solar system, the history-making asteroid named the ‘Oumuamua, was discovered by astronomers in October 2017 and puzzled the scientific community at the time, even setting off since-debunked rumors of extraterrestrial activity.

‘Oumuamua is a Hawaiian name for “a messenger from afar arriving first” and has been described by astronomer Paul Chodas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as “a strange visitor from a faraway star system, shaped like nothing we’ve ever seen in our own solar system neighborhood.”

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Brooklyn man charged with hate crime in attack on 63-year-old Jewish man

A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection to an attack on a 63-year-old Jewish man in a Brooklyn park, police said Thursday.

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Oniel Gilbourne, of Brooklyn, was charged with assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon following the Aug. 27 attack on the man, whose name was not released, according to the New York City Police Department. Gilbourne was hospitalized after his arrest, but police did not say why or where.

ABC News was unable to reach Gilbourne for comment. It’s unclear if he’s obtained an attorney.

The man attacked was wearing a yarmulke when he was punched by the suspect, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department told ABC News.

The victim’s son-in-law said he heard the suspect “was yelling ‘dirty Jew,’ which makes it very painful.”

“My father-in-law has a big beard. My father-in-law is very easily identifiable as a Hasidic Jew. My father-in-law speaks English with a very heavy Israeli accent,” Benny Friedman, the son-in-law, said.

There was not a verbal or physical interaction between the two prior to the fight, police said.

The victim was taken to Maimonides Hospital and has since been released. He suffered a laceration to his forehead and had his two front teeth knocked out. Friedman also said his father-in-law’s nose was broken in two places and his leg was injured.

According to NYPD records, there have been 145 anti-Semitic hate crime complaints between Jan. 1 and Aug. 25 of this year throughout New York City. By comparison, there were 88 such complaints during the same time period in 2018.

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Driver suffers ‘sudden cardiac death’ before school bus crash that injured students

A man in Mississippi suffered a medical emergency before the school bus he was driving crashed, leaving several children injured on a Mississippi highway, according to authorities.

The children were on their way to classes Tuesday morning in Benton County when the bus rolled several times before overturning and ending up in a ditch off Highway 72, Mississippi Highway Patrol said.

“Shortly before 8:30 this morning, we received notice that we would be getting multiple injured children from a bus crash down in Mississippi. We’ve so far received eight children and four of those by air ambulance, two by ground ambulance, and two by private vehicle that were brought in by their parents. They have all been seen, assessed and examined, and we’re currently treating their injuries,” said trauma medical director Regan Williams at a news conference Tuesday at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Williams said that four were going to require admission to the hospital and were considered serious but not critical.

“The other four have very minor or no injuries and will likely go home today,” Williams said.

Mississippi Highway Patrol said the eight students ranged in age from 7-13.

“The driver was pronounced dead at the scene,” Cpl. Jason Roe said during a news conference.

Benton County coroner Larry Hobson told ABC News the official cause of death of the bus driver is “sudden cardiac death.” Hobson said the driver “clutched his chest and slumped over,” according to the students on the bus.

Hobson and Mississippi Highway Patrol identified the bus driver as 63-year-old William Chester Cole. No autopsy will be performed, according to Hobson.

Williams said that none of the children had been ejected from the bus but that they’d sustained their injuries from being bounced around the vehicle during the crash.

David Lloyd said that his daughter, an eighth-grade student, had a broken ankle, leg and jaw but would still survive.

“Just a little devastated but at least the good Lord was with everybody and had their hands on everybody,” Lloyd told ABC News affiliate WATN-TV. “Just keep everybody in thoughts and prayers.”

Superintendent Steve Bostick said that Cole had worked for the school district for about five years.

“He’s one of the most dependable drivers we have in the district and like I said, he’s a very hard-working man,” Bostick told WATV-TV. “I’m sorry that this happened. I give my regards to the family.”

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1 dead, 8 rescued hiking in Malibu heat

One hiker died from heat stroke and eight others were rescued on Monday afternoon, according to the Malibu Search and Rescue Team.

Officials joined forces to help save the hikers, who were located on four different cliff sides in the Zuma Canyon area.


The LA County Sheriff’s Department had asked that the public avoid the area due to 911 calls from hikers who’d run out of water.

Despite life-saving efforts, an adult male did not survive the heat, according to Malibu SAR.

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More than 54,000 citations issued in Maryland for passing school buses

After more than 54,000 citations were issued last year in to drivers who blew past school buses with stop signs extended in Montgomery County, Maryland, all buses this year will be outfitted with safety cameras.

Negligent drivers may see fines of up to $500, too, officials said.

The Montgomery County Department of Police on Friday released footage of a dozen such incidents in the wake of releasing a video showing a 16-year-old girl being struck by a car as she made her way toward a school bus.

The teen girl is seen being tossed onto the hood of the car, which reverses back toward the scene of the accident after the girl picked herself up and sprinted back toward the vehicle that dropped her off.

Capt. Thomas Didone told ABC News the videos are being distributed in part to “warn and alert drivers, parents and school children of dangers.”

“The failure by drivers to stop for school buses can result in catastrophic consequences,” the department said in a statement. “There is absolutely no reason to hurry and drive impatiently that is worth the loss of or injury to any of our children.”

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Bear bursts through wall ‘like the Kool-Aid Man’ to escape home, police say

A bear that broke into a Colorado home made a wild escape to avoid being taken into custody when law enforcement arrived.

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The bear may have been attracted to the scent of garbage when it entered a home near Fall River Road in Estes Park, Colorado, Friday night, according to a statement from the Estes Park Police Department.

When an officer arrived at the home, the bear then “forcibly breached in the wall like the ‘Kool-Aid Man,'” police said, referring to the mascot in the shape of a pitcher who would burst through walls before saying the catchphrase “Oh yeah!” in Kool-Aid commercials.


Photos police posted to Facebook show a large hole next to the home’s door, which the bear created to make its getaway.

Officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife advised residents to routinely close and lock all doors and windows to their homes and vehicles.

Bears in the area are so habituated to retreiving food from vehicles that some are going car to car to see if they are unlocked, even if they don’t see or smell food, according to the department.

Some vehicles that bears have broken into were clean of any attractants — “not even a crumb,” wildlife officials said, describing the animals as “extremely smart.”

“Make it a routine to check everything is closed up before you go to bed or leave the house to do errands,” department officials said. “Please do your part to keep bears wild.”

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3-year-old boy dies after he’s left in ‘excessively hot’ car on college campus

A 3-year-old boy died after he was left in a car at an Indiana college campus on an “excessively hot” day, the sheriff said.

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Deputies responded to the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville at about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday for reports of an unresponsive toddler, according to the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office.

Oliver Dill, who had been left in a car on campus for several hours by a parent, was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

The temperature climbed to 90 degrees in Evansville Tuesday with a heat index — or what it feels like — of 94 degrees. The cause of death has not been determined, according to the Vanderburgh County Coroner.

Investigators do not believe there was malice and do not expect charges, though prosecutors will make the final determination, according to the sheriff.

University of Southern Indiana president Dr. Ronald S. Rochon said in a letter to the school community on Tuesday, “As a parent and the president of the University of Southern Indiana, I am deeply saddened to inform you of the tragic death of a young child as a result of being left in a parked car on our campus.”

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family of this young child. This is a loss no parent should bear,” Rochon said. “If you have a child in your life, please hug them tight and remember that counseling services are available if you need them.”

This marks the 19th child to die in a potential hot car case so far this year, according to national nonprofit KidsAndCars.org.

Hot car deaths reached a record last year with at least 52 children killed, according to KidsAndCars.org.

“It is beyond devastating knowing that solutions exist to detect the presence of a child inside a vehicle and yet children continue to die because these technologies aren’t being included as standard equipment in all vehicles,” KidsAndCars.org Director Amber Rollins told ABC News via email on Wednesday. “The Hot Cars Act would require such technology and is a critical step in eradicating hot car fatalities.”

“Nobody believes a hot car tragedy could happen to them or their family. No amount of education or awareness is going to change this,” Rollins said. “Technological solutions exist to detect the presence of a child or animal inside a hot car and stop these needless deaths and injuries. What are we waiting for?”

Click here for hot car safety tips.

ABC News’ Max Golembo contributed to this report.

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Burger King adds $1 crispy taco to menu for limited time

Burger King has added one of the nation’s favorite handheld meals to its menu for a limited time.

Starting Tuesday, customers will be able to order the crispy taco from participating restaurants for $1, according to a press release.

The taco consists of a crunchy tortilla filled with seasoned beef, shredded cheddar cheese and lettuce, topped with a savory taco sauce.

“We’ve seen success with tacos in our West Coast restaurants and knew it was time to bring this west coast favorite nationwide,” said Chris Finazzo, president of the Burger King Corporation in North America. “The Crispy Taco adds variety to our snacking items and truly hits the spot.”

Burger King has been experimenting with new food items lately, announcing earlier this year that it will soon roll out the plant-based “Impossible Burger” nationwide after successfully testing it at dozens of St. Louis locations.

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American Airlines apologizes for humiliating doctor who was told to cover up

American Airlines apologized to a Houston-based doctor on Tuesday after she claimed she was ordered to use a blanket to cover up her summer outfit.

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The passenger, Tisha Rowe, called the airline out in a tweet on June 30, saying crew members told her that she couldn’t board her Miami-bound flight without putting on a jacket. She said acquiesced but said she felt “humiliated” by the ordeal.

“So #AmericanAirlines just told me I couldn’t board the flight without putting a jacket over my ASSETS. My shorts covered EVERYTHING but apparently was too distracting to enter the plane,” she tweeted. “When defending my outfit I was threatened with not getting back on the flight unless I walked down the aisle wrapped in a blanket.”

Rowe, who was traveling with her 8-year-old son, also tweeted a photo of the outfit in question. Social media users rallied behind her and accused the airline of policing womens’ bodies.

Rowe said she was targeted due to her curvy figure, and because her body didn’t “fit the mold.”

“As a physician i know the negative impact of #racism on health and i am speaking up because i hope no one else has endure what i did because they don’t fit the mold,” she tweeted.

The airline issued an apology on Tuesday and said it fully refunded Rowe for her travel.

“We were concerned about Dr. Rowe’s comments, and reached out to her and our team at the Kingston airport to gather more information about what occurred,” American Airlines spokesperson Shannon Gilson said in an e-mailed statement to ABC News. “We apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience, and have fully refunded their travel.”

Gilson said American Airlines is “proud” to serve customers of all backgrounds and committed to providing a “positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

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Illinois governor signs executive order to protect transgender students

Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker closed out Pride Month on Sunday by signing an executive order that aims to protect transgender students throughout the state.

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Pritzker said the order establishes a new Affirming and Inclusive Schools Task Force, and directs the state’s public school board to take “comprehensive action” to better support transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students.

He said the order would “disrupt the patterns of discrimination” in classrooms statewide.

“We’re taking one more step toward securing Illinois’ place as a leader in equality and hope. Under this executive order, ignorance is no longer an excuse for bigotry,” Pritzker said in a tweet Sunday. “This executive order establishes the Affirming and Inclusive Schools Task Force and directs @ISBEnews take comprehensive action to ensure every LGBTQ student is supported and welcomed in their schools.”

The 25-member task force will help to establish practices that promote LGBTQ students’ rights as well as educate school officials on issues specific to the transgender experience, including issues surrounding name changes, preffered pronouns and dress codes. The task force is expected to make policy recommendations to the governor’s office by Jan.1, 2020.

The signing took place before Pritzker walked in the city’s annual Pride march, and as cities around the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York — an event that helped spawn the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.

Pritzker said the order would help ensure safe and more inclusive spaces for all students. Lawmakers hope it also protects transgender youth, a particularly vulnerable group, amid concerning levels of anti-transgender violence.

“While the LGBTQ community has so much to celebrate, we also must recognize that the trans community that ignited this movement has been left out of many of its victories,” Pritzker said in a statement Sunday. “Visibility and acceptance for non-cisgender people are on the rise, but so are attacks of hate, particularly against black trans women.”

While hate-crime statistics from the FBI show violent incidents against gays and lesbians dropping slightly, or remaining stagnant, from 2013 to 2017 (the most recent year data has been released), violent incidents against transgender individuals were nearly five times higher over that period.

Incidents against trans individuals also rose each year: 23 in 2013, 58 in 2014, 73 in 2015, 105 in 2016 and 106 in 2017. The statistics are self-reported by local law enforcement agencies, and are therefore incomplete.

Lori Lightfoot, who made history earlier this year by becoming the city’s first openly gay mayor of Chicago, stood beside Pritzker as he signed the executive order on Sunday. She called the initiative a major part in the state’s battle against anti-transgender discrimination and violence.

“It’s a first step towards codifying tolerance and respect in all of our schools across the state, giving every student the safe space to reach their full potential,” Lightfoot said a speech Sunday. “I’m proud to say that CPS, Chicago Public School, has been a leader on this front with its own guidelines for supporting transgender students and staff, ensuring that in this city trans individuals have the same access and the same opportunities as everyone else.”

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